NSW Fire & Rescue crews at the scene of the fire at St Carthage's Cathedral in Lismore.
NSW Fire & Rescue crews at the scene of the fire at St Carthage's Cathedral in Lismore.

Fire at Hillsong church linked to Lismore cathedral blaze

AN ALLEGED arsonist, who caused significant damage, to a Lismore Cathedral is now facing allegations he also set fire to a Hillsong Church in Sydney.

Police will allege Stephen Anthony Luke, 45, carried out a week-long crime spree across NSW, which culminated in his arrest after he allegedly set fire to St Carthage's Cathedral in Lismore on September 18, according to court documents.

He was charged with damaging more than $15,000 worth of property with fire, using an offensive weapon to prevent lawful detention, two counts of assault with intent to rob armed with an offensive weapon, armed robbery using with offensive weapon, two counts of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception and larceny.

 

Stephen Luke is facing a number charges, including setting fire to two churches.
Stephen Luke is facing a number charges, including setting fire to two churches.

 

However, NSW Police have since laid new charges against Mr Luke in relation to the alleged damage he caused to Hillsong Church in Norwest, Sydney on September 16.

Court documents reveal Mr Luke allegedly set fire to garden plants and irrigation plumbing pipes a the Hillsong property, causing about $2000 worth of damage, and painted a building wall without consent.

Police will allege Mr Luke's crime spree started in Griffith where he allegedly threatened a 20-year-old woman in a car park with a knife before demanding she give him the car keys on September 14.

He then fled the area in her Volkswagen Polo, along with her handbag containing personal items, court documents reveal.

 

A view of the damaged roof at St Carthage's Cathedral, Lismore.
A view of the damaged roof at St Carthage's Cathedral, Lismore.

 

Mr Luke then allegedly approached a 23-year-old woman outside a shopping centre at Hornsby and threatened her with a large knife.

Police allege he demanded she hand over her cash, but she was able to flee without handing over any of her possessions.

Then, according to the timeline outlined in court documents, Mr Luke allegedly set the fire at Norwest on September 16 before he travelled to Lismore, where he set fire to St Carthage's Cathedral in Lismore on September 18.

Multiple fire crews were called to the cathedral and managed to extinguish the blaze.

Mr Luke was later arrested on September 19 on Magellan St, Lismore.

A taser was used to subdue Mr Luke after he allegedly threatened officers with a large knife.

 

Clean-up and assessment of the damage is under way at St Carthage's Cathedral, Lismore, after a fire.
Clean-up and assessment of the damage is under way at St Carthage's Cathedral, Lismore, after a fire.

 

When his matters were briefly mentioned before Lismore Local Court on Wednesday, the police prosecutor told the court more time was required to make the brief for the other three charges compliant.

Mr Luke, who remains in custody at Clarence Correctional Centre, did not apply for bail and bail was formally refused.

He will appear at Lismore Local Court on February 10 for further mention.


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