SYDNEY, March 3 (Xinhua) -- A 52-year-old man has been charged with three counts of murder and arson after three homeless people perished in a Melbourne factory fire.
Authorities attending the fire which broke out at an abandoned factory in Footscray, 7 kilometers west of Melbourne's CBD, in the early hours of Thursday morning found the bodies of two men and a woman in an alcove at the back of the factory.
Authorities were treating the fire as suspicious and on Thursday arrested Darren Patrick Clover, 52, in Melbourne's CBD on Thursday afternoon.
Clover was officially charged with three counts of murder, three counts of arson causing death and one count of arson in an out-of-sessions court hearing in the early hours of Friday morning.
Detective Senior Sergeant Jim Gogorossis told the court hearing that Clover was seen purchasing 1.50 U.S. dollars of petrol in a red fuel container from a service station on the nearby Gordon Street in Footscray at 11:16 p.m. on Wednesday night.
Prosecutors alleged that Clover then walked 750 meters and poured petrol directly on the rear door of the factory and set it alight.
Gogorossis said that the three victims were heard screaming for their lives before they perished from smoke inhalation.
When asked if he had any concerns about his welfare in custody, Clover replied "the first person I see I'm probably going to kill."
Locals said that the three homeless people squatting in the factory had never caused any trouble and were known to lock themselves into the building at night.
"I pass through here most days," Footscray resident Winn Pham told News Limited.
"It's a tragedy, I'm very sad to hear it.
"I've never seen any trouble with them. They lock up during the day and come back at night."
The site had been approved for redevelopment into an apartment block.