15 September 2023

Self-described 'crackhead' refused bail over allegedly starting Braddon tattoo parlour fire

| Albert McKnight
car drives up a lit lane at night.

Police believe the suspected arsonists used this stolen vehicle to target the Braddon business. Photo: ACT Policing.

The man accused of arson over a fire at a Braddon tattoo business has been refused bail after his lawyer fought for his release from custody in part due to injuries he suffered in a car accident.

Emergency services responded to the fire at Ethereal Tattoo Parlour early in the morning on 19 June 2023, court documents state.

They arrived to find the front door was ajar, a glass panel was smashed, although remained in place and a sprinkler had activated. Inside, firefighters found a 13.5 kg gas bottle and five-litre fuel container.

Police declared a crime scene and allege a mobile phone found there belonged to 28-year-old Mathew James Longmore of Gordon.

They began to intercept Longmore’s calls and in one, a woman told him officers had claimed they’d found his phone at an arson incident.

“It was stolen… I f-ing lose phones all the time, I’m a crackhead, s-t gets stolen,” he said.

“All they have is the phone, like, that’s nothing,” the woman said.

“Alright sweet. Because I f-ing dropped the c-t. I was getting out of the car and I didn’t know because it was on grass,” he said.

Meanwhile, police found a stolen Toyota Celica, which had been seen near the tattoo parlour shortly before the fire. Jerry cans were inside the car which smelled strongly of fuel.

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The tattoo parlour closed for two weeks for repairs, which cost about $3000.

Firefighters said that if the gas bottle had exploded in the absence of a sprinkler, the people who lived in the eight-storey residences above the shop could have been injured or died.

Longmore pleaded not guilty to fresh charges that included arson and dishonestly taking a motor vehicle without consent when he appeared in the ACT Galambany Court on Wednesday (13 September).

He had previously pleaded not guilty to a charge of intentionally wounding over allegedly stabbing a man in the buttocks with what is believed to be scissors while in Tuggeranong on 9 January 2023.

A video of that incident was shown to the courtroom during his bail application on Wednesday, in which a man could be seen holding onto a woman who it seemed was trying to move away from him.

It appeared the person filming the incident was using their mobile phone and was repeatedly saying, “Get off her”.

Two men then approached, pushed the man down and one repeatedly hit the man in the buttocks area.

“I just got stabbed,” the man said when he stood up.

Due to his charges, Longmore had to prove special or exceptional circumstances existed to be granted bail.

His lawyer, Emilia Currey of the Aboriginal Legal Service, said these circumstances came from a combination of factors.

She argued that he had been in a car accident in June and needed ongoing rehabilitation, which was not being met in custody.

She said he had also talked about being at a crossroads after the accident and started applying for residential rehabilitation centres.

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However, Special Magistrate Anthony Hopkins told Longmore, “this isn’t the news you want to hear”, and refused bail.

He said no expert evidence had been presented to say he could not receive the care he needed while in custody and noted the alleged offences were very serious.

The special magistrate thought the cases could come down to identification issues at trial.

Longmore will face a hearing on the alleged stabbing in December, while his other matters were adjourned to November.

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