Fatal fire: Code cleared

A MAN has been cleared of any responsibility for the fatal Aberfeldy fire last year.

The Melbourne Magistrates’ Court was told Grahame Ernest Code, 76, lit a fire on his Aberfeldy property on January 17 last year to burn paper with his son.

The court heard that while Code’s fire did not cause the blaze, he was complacent on the day.

Magistrate Peter Mellas said it could not be proved beyond reasonable doubt the fire had spread from Code’s property to cause the bushfire which killed an 84-year-old man at Seaton, 200 livestock and destroyed 22 homes.

Code was convicted for failing to ensure adequate measures were taken to prevent the spread of the fire.

Code had pleaded guilty to lighting a fire during a prohibited period without permission from authorities.

He was fined $2500 over the offences.

In a statement to the Gippsland Times, Code and wife Lynda expressed gratitude to the people of Gippsland for their support during the past 15 months.

“During this harrowing time we have received hundreds of letters, emails and telephone calls, encouraging us not to give up,” they said.

“We wish to thank all those who also gave financial support and thank the churches who helped us put food on the table.

“Gippsland people are good, caring people, and as we struggled through this terrible battle, to know we were not alone and to know we had the love, encouragement and prayers from so many, gave us hope.

“Thank you for helping our family.”