No pleas yet for Premier fire accused

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Five men accused of setting Albany's historic Premier Hotel on fire, including its licensee, made another brief appearance in a Perth court yesterday.

Graeme Roderick Cooper, the licensee and alleged mastermind behind the plan to stage a robbery and set the struggling business alight in a bid to fraudulently gain a $3 million insurance claim, appeared in Stirling Gardens Magistrates Court via video-link from Hakea Prison.

The four men who allegedly helped carry out the elaborate plan — Scott Jon Gay, Karl Hutchinson, Christopher Lyndon Paterson and Aaron Mark Hasson — appeared together by video-link from Casuarina prison.

They are each facing a string of charges including criminal damage by fire, endangering life with intent to harm and doing an act which resulted in life, safety or health being endangered.

At an earlier hearing, the court was told at least two people were inside the hotel at the time of the blaze.

It is alleged that the brazen staged robbery, which involved Mr Cooper, was caught on CCTV.

Mr Cooper fronted a press conference at the time pleading for information after the incident alongside detectives, who were in fact investigating him.

All five men were remanded in custody to appear in Stirling Gardens Magistrate’s Court again on January 18. They are yet to plead to the charges.

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