The alleged arsonist who police say set fire to the Wangaratta home of an 81-year-old woman has blamed her neighbours for the crime.
Lisa Hay, 33, has been accused of causing about $200,000 damage to the house on September 1 last year.
The building has since been demolished.
The elderly victim was woken by the smoke alarm and managed to escape before flames engulfed the property.
Detective Acting Sergeant Justin Schulz told Wangaratta Magistrates Court on Wednesday that police found Hay’s fingerprints on the fence.
“(The victim) identifies noises consistent with banging on the fence between her property and the accused’s property,” he said.
Hay has pleaded not guilty to charges including criminal damage by fire.
The court heard police received a letter in March this year from another woman who was in jail with Hay while she was on remand and pointed the finger at four other Wangaratta residents for lighting the fires.
Hay’s barrister Martin Koslowski questioned if police had investigated these suspects, but Detective Schulz said they all denied the allegations.
One of the women was also in custody at Dame Phyllis Frost Centre.
“She has been pressured by other inmates to take responsibility for these fires,” Detective Schulz said.
“I believe this is a red herring that’s been thrown up … I’m not intrigued by it.”
A police fingerprint expert told the court he was 100 per cent certain that three fingerprints from the fence, including the left palm and right little finger, belonged to Hay but could not identify six others that were smudged or lacked detail.
He could not say how long ago the prints had been made.
The now 82-year-old victim briefly appeared in the witness box, but was not cross-examined by Mr Koslowski.
Hay did plead guilty to criminal damage by fire and reckless conduct endangering life over four other small fires lit at another house in the same street.
They were lit on April 26, May 7, May 27 and July 14 last year and caused about $6500 in damage to the property own by the Department of Housing.
Hay remains on bail, with the condition she not enter Wangaratta unless attending court.
The committal hearing will resume in court on Thursday.
- Receive our daily newsletter straight to your inbox each morning from The Border Mail. Sign up here