Belfast Telegraph

Man accused of starting fire at former Belfast Telegraph building to stand trial

By Alan Erwin

A man is to stand trial accused of starting a fire that caused an estimated £87,000 worth of damage at a former newspaper headquarters in Belfast city centre, a judge ordered.

Cristian Topiter also allegedly stole digital equipment after breaking into a technology hub now located in the building on Royal Avenue.

The 33-year-old Romanian national, with an address at Parkmore in Craigavon, Co Armagh, faces charges of burglary and arson over the incident on February 21 this year.

Appearing before Belfast Magistrates' Court in handcuffs for a preliminary enquiry, Topiter declined to call witnesses or give evidence at this stage.

Defence representatives did not contest prosecution submissions that he has a prima facie case to answer.

On that basis District Judge Fiona Bagnall granted an application to have him returned for Crown Court trial on a date to be fixed.

With no fresh bid for bail mounted during the hearing, Topiter remains in custody at this stage.

The fire broke out in a building which was once home to the Belfast Telegraph and is now occupied by technology innovation centre Digital Catapult.

A previous court heard the blaze was allegedly started in a storeroom before spreading to other parts of the offices.

Extensive fire and smoke damage was caused to the premises, with costs estimated to be in excess of £87,000.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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