25 May 2023

UPDATED: Magistrate orders mental health assessment for Yass hotel fire accused

| Sally Hopman
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The Commercial Hotel fire at the height of the blaze early on Monday in Yass. Photo: Fiona Northey.

UPDATED 5:10 pm: A 20-year-old man has appeared in Goulburn Local Court charged over a fire that significantly damaged the Commercial Hotel in Yass early yesterday morning.

Appearing before Magistrate Geraldine Beattie, the Yass man, whom Region has chosen not to name, did not enter a plea to the charge of damage by fire to property over $15,000.

His duty solicitor sought a mental health assessment and that was granted.

The magistrate said he may return to court to face charges depending on the outcome.

11:10 am: A man is scheduled to appear in Goulburn Local Court later today (23 May) charged with arson after the Commercial Hotel in Yass was extensively damaged by fire yesterday.

Emergency services were called to the hotel, which had become derelict after its closure in 2005, at around 2 am on Monday following reports of a fire.

READ ALSO End of an era as Commercial Hotel in Yass gutted by fire

Although 10 units and about 30 personnel from NSW Fire and Rescue attended and extinguished the blaze, the building was significantly damaged, with one neighbouring property receiving water damage. NSW Police and the Ambulance Service also attended to support the firefighters.

The historic hotel on Comur Street was built in the 1840s, with developers recently starting restoration works on the property.

It had been the social hub of the town in its prime, providing a resting place for commercial travellers for many years. It had stood the test of time, including a fire and a cyclone in its earlier days, but had been reduced to an eyesore in its recent life while decisions were being made about its future.

Burnt out hotel

Little remains of the Commercial Hotel after a fire caused significant damage yesterday (22 May). Photo: Sally Hopman.

Officers from the Hume Police District established a crime scene late yesterday and commenced an investigation into the cause of the fire.

After launching a public appeal for information, police arrested a man, 20, at a nearby address on Comur Street, at around 2 pm. He was taken to Yass Police Station and charged with damaging property by fire or explosion greater than $15,000.

He was refused bail to appear at Goulburn Local Court today.

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