As reported in Australian newspapers on September 5, 2012, a 22-year-old man has been charged with malicious damage by fire and breach of bail after he was arrested running away from a $100,000 yacht that he allegedly put to flames.
Police apprehended the suspect at approximately 4am as he attempted to flee from a Neutral Bay ferry wharf, and the man will be facing Central Local Court. The arrest took place outside the home of famed late children’s author and illustrator May Gibbs who wrote best-sellers such as “Tales of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie.”
Residents called emergency crews after seeing a boat on fire at the Kurraba Road ferry wharf. “Moomba”, a 40-foot yacht, was completely engulfed in the blaze and ended up burning to the water line. Owner Peter Zehnder did not know of the fire until police informed him hours after the fact.
The reason why Zehnder’s boat was targeted remains a mystery; the assailant has no connections whatsoever to the yacht or to the yacht’s owner.
Witnesses described the fire and situation:
“We came to the window and saw a boat on fire and by that stage there was police arriving on Kurraba wharf,” said nearby resident Phil Vandervaere, explaining the scene after his family were awakened by the sounds of explosions.
“(The flames) were fairly big,” he said. “Most of the boat was on fire. There was explosions coming out of it.”