Bail denied for man accused of setting person on fire

Cheryl Goodenough |

Bail was denied to a man accused of setting alight a person with a disability over a small debt.
Bail was denied to a man accused of setting alight a person with a disability over a small debt.

After threatening a man on crutches over a debt, Nicholas James Wilson doused him with methylated spirits and set him alight, a court has been told.

Wilson no longer faces an attempted murder charge but will remain behind bars after being refused bail over the alleged April 2022 attack in Brisbane.

The 43-year-old is accused of breaking into the man’s Woolloongabba unit before dousing him with the flammable liquid from about three feet away.

Wilson stood or leaned forward in a way to close the gap between the men before igniting a gas lighter that belonged to the man, who lives with a disability, the Crown alleges.

The device had “extraordinary capabilities” although there was no evidence Wilson knew it could shoot flames up to a foot and a half, as the injured man told police, Acting Justice Ann Lyons said in refusing bail on Thursday.

“We’re not talking about a cigarette lighter.”

Justice Lyons said it would seem Wilson told the man, who suffered significant burns, to shower once he was on fire.

It was accepted Wilson caused harm to the complainant by burning him, with the issue at trial being whether the actions were intentional, the Brisbane Supreme Court was told.

“It’s clear the allegation is that the applicant intended to, and then followed through, setting the complainant alight in relation to a relatively minor debt,” Justice Lyons said.

The Crown alleges Wilson made threats to burn the man in phone conversations before going to the house with the fluid.

In refusing Wilson’s bail Justice Lyons said she was not satisfied proposed bail conditions would be adequate or that there was a risk of Wilson spending too much time in custody.

Wilson’s five-page Queensland criminal history included bail and parole breaches but no prior acts of violence.

Wilson was charged with attempted murder when arrested two days after the alleged attack but had been successful in a ‘no case to answer’ submission on that charge during earlier proceedings.

He has been committed to stand trial on one count each of acts intended to cause grievous bodily harm, enter dwelling with intent in company and extortion.

Wilson has been in custody since April 2022, with his trial to be held in the Brisbane District Court on a date yet to be decided.