A woman has been charged with murder over the death of Jeffrey Lindsell, who received extensive burns in a granny flat fire at Gymea last year.
Police from Strike Force Butler detectives arrested Amanda Zukowski, 46, at a home at Marrickville just after 8.30am on Thursday.
She appeared at Newtown Local Court where police alleged Zukowski tampered with the water supply and deliberately lit the fire in the granny flat knowing Mr Lindsell was inside asleep.
Mr Lindsell, 39, suffered extensive burns in the granny flat fire, which broke out about 1.30am on Saturday, October 7 last year in the granny flat at the rear of his family’s home in San Remo Avenue.
He was rescued from the flat by firefighters, but died in Royal North Shore Hospital two days later.
Detectives from the Financial Crimes Squad’s Arson Unit established Strike Force Butler to investigate the circumstances surrounding the fire.
Earlier this year Fairfax Media exclusively revealed investigators believed the fire was intentionally lit while Mr Lindsell slept, and that two taps had been left running full blast inside the flat, pointing to a second person being present at the time.
Since the death of their firstborn son, the Lindsell family has struggled to comprehend what led to Mr Lindsell's targeted death; the vacant block behind their house a constant reminder of his final excruciating moments.
“I don’t even have to close my eyes to see him running out of the house,” his mother Kathy Lindsell told said in February when Strike Force Butler detectives made a fresh appeal for information.
The appeal attracted key pieces of evidence from the community, including one critical account from a local resident who allegedly saw someone tampering with the mains water supply at the Gymea property.
In court yesterday Ms Zukowski wiped away tears as she sat in the dock, at times looking out to her parents who were in the court.
In a bail application on her behalf, defence barrister Paul McGirr argued that the prosecution case was "weak, at best", and merely attempted to "paint a picture of a volatile relationship" by citing "domestic violence issues".
"Even if there is a volatile relationship, the prosecution bears the onus of proving some sort of motive … an intent, or reckless indifference to human life ... where is that evidence?" he said, describing parts of the police facts as "made up".
"There is no evidence my client turned any tap off ... that she tried to turn the mains water off … no forensic evidence that she even touched that particular tap," he said.
"I draw attention to [the facts, which state] 'due to the level of damage ... the cause of the fire is undetermined'.
However magistrate Margaret Quinn said, while the case was circumstantial, the facts were "quite detailed" and "concerning".
"I can only judge it by the facts. The defendant was asked whether the deceased was in the flat when she raised the alarm … the defendant said the deceased was not ... [but] of course the deceased was in the flat ... that itself is an odd matter."
The police prosecutor argued there was "plenty of evidence contained in the fact sheet, in which a reasonable jury would be able to support there had been reckless indifference to life".
He told the court a neighbour had overheard an argument taking place after Ms Zukowski and Mr Lindsell had been captured on CCTV walking towards the granny flat, around 15 minutes before the fire was first detected.
The court also heard the prosecution would rely on the content of lawfully intercepted phone calls made by the accused in the period following the fire.
Ms Zukowski was denied bail and will reappear at Newtown Local Court in person or via audio-visual link on August 14.