3 Dec 2014

Relationship deteriorated before fire

10:02 pm on 3 December 2014

The man accused of setting fire to a Wellington storage unit told the police his relationship with the man who owned it had deteriorated in the months before the fire, a court has been told.

Fire crews at the Kiwi Self Storage facility.

Fire crews at the Kiwi Self Storage facility. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

Angelo Bitossi is on trial in the High Court at Wellington on a charge of arson, relating to the fire at the Kiwi Self-Storage facility in Kilbirnie last April.

In a DVD interview played in court this afternoon, the 35-year-old told a detective that he and his partner had always gone out of their way to help Mr McKinley but Mr McKinley would not do the same for them.

He said he and Mr McKinley had basically gone their own separate ways over time and described his former friend as "a piece of shit who uses people".

Mr Bitossi said he had the keys to Mr McKinley's car and house and the storage unit code, and asked why he would want to burn Mr McKinley's possessions down when he could just go and take them.

He told Detective Brad Hendra he had been living in fear since the fire and believed there could be a price on his head.

Earlier in the day, a detective gave evidence of seeing CCTV footage of Angelo Bitossi wearing a black and purple baseball cap similar to one found at the fire scene.

Scientific witnesses gave evidence that DNA found on a cap at the scene was more likely to have come from Mr Bitossi than any other random person.

However, defence lawyer Douglas Ewen suggested to witness James Brodie he may have been responsible for the fire.

Mr Ewen said shoes shown in a police photo of the crime scene were his; Mr Brodie said they might look like shoes he owned but it was not him in the photo.

Mr Brodie admitted his family disliked Mr McKinley because of trouble he had caused them but he denied responsibility for the fire.

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