Two set to deny charges over $2m historic hotel blaze

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Tim ClarkeThe West Australian
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Two of the five men accused of setting fire to the historic Premier hotel in Albany, including its licensee, have indicated they will deny involvement in the alleged plan.

Graeme Cooper and Karl Hutchinson made a brief appearance in the Stirling Gardens Magistrate’s court in Perth, accused of various charges including arson, attempted fraud and endangering the life, health and safety of a person.

The fire caused extensive damage to the historic pub overnight.
Camera IconThe fire caused extensive damage to the historic pub overnight. Credit: Tayler Neale

Mr Cooper had previously indicated he would plead not guilty to the charges, linked to the blaze which caused up to $2 million in damage and allegedly endangered the lives of four people.

He confirmed that intention today, with pleas set to be entered during the next appearance next month.

Three more co-accused, who are also all still in custody, are said to be in negotiations with prosecutors.

The Premier Hotel.
Camera IconThe Premier Hotel. Credit: John Dobson

They will also all appear in court again in April.

Following the incident, Mr Cooper had told police that two men wearing disguises had confronted him in the early hours of May 13 last year before allegedly stealing money from the safe and setting the building alight.

Detectives later released composite images and CCTV footage of the moment of the alleged attack, then arrested two men, before arresting Mr Cooper.

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