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Man due in court after church fire

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 16/05/2016

A man has appeared in court charged over a fire that gutted a church in Christchurch.

Police allege the man, who has interim name suppression, set fire to St Margaret's Presbyterian Church at Bishopdale on Sunday and also entered the building a week earlier.

The 35-year-old appeared in Christchurch District Court on Monday charged with twice entering the building with intent to commit a crime and causing damage by fire.

His lawyer didn't apply for bail but requested his client be granted interim name suppression due to potential extreme hardship.

The man will next appear in court via video link on May 30.

He faces a maximum 10 year jail term on the more serious charge.

The church's minister, Reverend Dr Andrew Nicol, has said future services would be held in the surviving office building once power and water were restored to it.

"Whilst we have been hurt by what has happened, we want to extend a sense of Christian forgiveness and grace to those who are affected by his actions as well, including him," he said.

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