Premier Hotel licensee sentenced to 10 years jail

Albany Advertiser

Former Premier Hotel licensee Graeme Cooper has been sentenced to 10 years prison over the arson of the historic Albany Hotel.

On Wednesday, Cooper was sentenced to 10 years jail, eligible for parole after eight years, in Albany Supreme Court.

Mr Cooper admitted to arson and fraud charges over the 2016 fire after originally pleading not guilty.

The court was told on Monday, Cooper initiated an elaborate ploy to stage a robbery and set fire to the hotel in an attempt to lodge a potential insurance claim of an estimated $3.37million.

State prosecutor David Davidson said the debt bearing down on Cooper and the financial motive was the reason behind the plot.

The court was told the hotel had run at a loss from July, 2015, to May, 2016, with Cooper and business partner Rumeena Nizam taking over the lease in October, 2015.

Cooper and Ms Nizam had been late on rent repayments on at least one occasion, the court was told.

Investigations into the incident began on May 13, 2016, after Cooper provided a statement to police claiming he was robbed and assaulted by two men who proceeded to set fire to the hotel.

Cooper’s barrister Ken Bates told the court on Monday that his client had no previous criminal convictions.

Scott Jon Gay, Christopher, Lyndon Paterson, Aaron Mark Hasson and Karl Hutchinson were all sentenced for their involvement in the arson attack in July which caused $1.5 million in damage to the 126-year-old building.

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