Utakarra woman Casey Shaelene Woods remanded in custody after Mercantile Club building fire and other charges

Jessica MoroneyGeraldton Guardian
The historic Mercantile Club building. Geraldton police said the damage bill from the fire was ‘well over $500,000.’
Camera IconThe historic Mercantile Club building. Geraldton police said the damage bill from the fire was ‘well over $500,000.’ Credit: Jessica Moroney/Geraldton Guardi/RegionalHUB

The woman charged over the devastating fire that significantly damaged the historic Mercantile Building is behind bars after allegedly failing to stick to her bail conditions.

Casey Shaelene Woods, 27, from Utakarra, faced court on Thursday for breaching her bail conditions, imposed after she was allegedly responsible for the fire that engulfed the Mercantile Building on Marine Terrace on September 7.

Ms Woods was required to live in Perth as part of her bail conditions, but has since faced 17 charges including breaching bail, stealing and aggravated robbery in the Geraldton and Perth areas.

She was remanded in custody and will reappear in the Geraldton Magistrates Court via video link on November 3.

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Over the Mercantile Club blaze, Ms Woods has been charged with failure to reasonably ensure that an ignition source would not cause a fire that could not be controlled.

Geraldton detective First Class Constable Jake Williams alleged the fire ignited at the rear of the premises and caught on to the top storey. Emergency services extinguished the fire in about two hours.

The Mercantile Club building, built between 1893 and 1910, is a two-storey building leased by Hippie Haven, a locally-owned clothing and homewares store, while the top floor hosts a darts club a few days a week.

Geraldton police said the damage bill was “well over $500,000”, and that all stock from the bottom-level store was destroyed by either smoke or fire.

The Geraldton Guardian understands Chubb Insurance was responsible for investigating the building’s condition.

Chubb Insurance have declined to comment on the state of the building, or whether the damage can be repaired at this stage.

The Mercantile Club purchased the building in November 1949.

During that time the property included the club premises, two shops, a billiard saloon, a dental surgery, a warehouse and a private residence.

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