Man accused of murdering 13yo in Sydney house fire refused bail
For the latest flood and weather warnings, search on ABC Emergency
A man accused of murder over a house fire in Sydney 24 years ago allegedly made threats to witnesses and attempted to establish an alibi, a court has heard during his unsuccessful bail application. 
WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that the following story contains images of a person who has died.
Gregory John Walker, 55, was extradited from Queensland to Sydney in August and charged with murder and six counts of damaging property with intent to endanger life.
Thirteen-year-old Arthur Haines was at a sleepover at a house in Waterloo in April 1998 when it caught fire and while he eventually escaped, he died 11 weeks later in hospital.
Police allege the teenager was an innocent party who was caught up in a neighbourhood dispute which escalated quickly, and a petrol bomb was thrown at the house.
Defence barrister Claire O'Neill today argued the prosecution could not exclude the possibility the fire was "a tragic accident", citing statements from investigating authorities after the incident.
She told Downing Centre Local Court the duty fire investigation officer recorded the fire was suspicious but had an undetermined ignition source.
The court heard the fire brigade's officer-in-charge said there was no smell of flammable materials, and a crime scene officer concluded there was no "obvious" cause but thought the blaze was suspicious due to the "quick intensity" with which it ignited.
"In my submission, it is a weak case," Ms O'Neill said during a bail application.
Referring to the layout of the property, Ms O'Neill said there would have to have been "a pretty good spin throw" for someone to launch a Molotov cocktail from the street and have it land at a point inside where authorities suspected the blaze began.
She said Mr Walker was "wholly cooperative" when contacted by police and offered to see them if he was to be arrested.
"Your Honour might think if he was going to flee … this is the time he would have done it."
Ms O'Neill said Mr Walker posed no danger to the community and even the "slight risk" of interfering with witnesses could be mitigated by bail conditions.
The prosecutor argued the evidence wasn't inconsistent with the relatively strong Crown case.
She conceded the matter may take one to two years to resolve but said the amount of time the defendant may spend in custody was "not so unusual or so lengthy" as to warrant cause being shown on the application.
Magistrate Rami Attia agreed with the characterisation of the Crown case being "relatively strong" and described the charges as extremely serious.
Citing a statement of alleged police facts, he referred to allegations of an "attempt" by the defendant to "establish an alibi" in a conversation with another person.
Those court documents also contained allegations of threats made to witnesses, the magistrate noted.
Magistrate Attia said if convicted on one or a combination of the charges, a custodial sentence was "not just likely, but is certain".
Mr Walker was refused bail and the case returns to court in December.
We acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians and Traditional Custodians of the lands where we live, learn, and work.
This service may include material from Agence France-Presse (AFP), APTN, Reuters, AAP, CNN and the BBC World Service which is copyright and cannot be reproduced.
AEST = Australian Eastern Standard Time which is 10 hours ahead of GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)