A MAN who allegedly set fire to a NSW Department of Housing unit in Albury, causing at least $25,000 damage, was refused bail in court yesterday.
Brian Edward Ruiz appeared in custody after being released from the Albury Base Hospital where he had had a mental health assessment.
Ruiz, 35, of Thurgoona Street, was released after hospital staff said he was not displaying any behaviour indicating a major mental illness.
He has been charged with damaging property by fire and appeared in Albury Local Court.
The court was told in a tendered police statement that Ruiz rented the one bedroom unit in Thurgoona Street, which was on the middle floor of a three-floor unit tower.
He attended the police station about 9.30pm on Wednesday and spoke to an officer at the front counter.
It was indicated by Ruiz that he had poured methylated spirits on a mattress on his bed and set it alight.
He made a request to be taken to the hospital for treatment.
When police attended the unit, they smelt smoke and saw flames coming from a bedroom window.
There were five units in the block and police evacuated six people who had been asleep at the time.
Four fire trucks arrived to fight the blaze and took a short time to get it under control.
The unit was completely destroyed by heat, flames and smoke. Another unit above it suffered severe smoke damage.
Police spoke to Ruiz at the hospital and he admitted setting the mattress alight.
He said the methylated spirits were bought at a supermarket about two weeks earlier and he used a lighter to ignite them.
After starting the fire, he walked to the police station to tell police what he had done.
A conservative estimate of the damage was $25,000 to $30,000.
Solicitor Dione Garwell withdrew from the case, saying she was unable to get instructions from Ruiz.
Registrar Wendy Howard remanded Ruiz in custody and adjourned his case until Monday for an appearance before a magistrate.