Man denied bail over Helensburgh blazes

A man was a danger to Helensburgh residents, having put their lives at risk after allegedly setting fire to bushland, Wollongong Bail Court was told on Sunday.

Kenneth James Bellette, 45, was charged with intentionally causing fire and being reckless to its spread near Helensburgh Railway Station on Saturday.

The Rural Fire Service was called to two spot fires burning in bushland at the edge of the railway corridor a short distance from the western side of the station car park just after 1.30pm.

About two hours later, firefighters were called to the same area and put out five small fires on both sides of the railway line. Firefighters then began searching for a man who rail crew had seen walking into the Helensburgh railway tunnel.

Later in the day they found Bellette, wearing camouflage clothing and army-style boots, walking towards the Helensburgh tip. He had a cigarette lighter in his possession.

Police were called and Bellette, of no fixed address, was later charged with the arson-related offences.

Prosecutor Shannon Ryan said that Bellette had been freed on parole from jail on January 17 after being found guilty of reckless wounding in March last year.

Sergeant Ryan alleged that Bellette had lit the fires during the height of summer and was a danger to the community and to the lives of Helensburgh residents. An investigation into the fires was continuing, he said.

Registrar Kathy Frost was told that Bellette was intellectually disabled and suffered from a mental illness.

His Legal Aid solicitor, Tracey Reynolds, said it was unclear if Bellette had been taking any medication for his illness.

If granted bail, Bellette would reside at a hostel for homeless men in Sydney, she said.

Ms Frost said Bellette was an unacceptable risk and refused him bail. She adjourned the matter until today.

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