You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Tensions in Kalgoorlie after house torched

AAP logoAAP 16/09/2016 Greg Roberts

Tension and the threat of more racially-charged violence is high in Kalgoorlie after the home of a man charged with the manslaughter of 14-year-old Aboriginal boy Elijah Doughty was deliberately set alight.

The South Kalgoorlie house went up in flames on Thursday night, with the building and contents completely destroyed at a cost of about $250,000.

No one was home at the time but the 55-year-old man, who is currently in custody, had lived there with his family.

Elijah died last month when he was believed to have been hit by a car while riding a stolen motorbike.

The alleged driver of the 4WD ute involved reported the motorbike stolen the day before.

The charge of manslaughter, which carries a lesser punishment than murder, sparked a riot outside the Kalgoorlie courthouse before the man's first court appearance, receiving national attention and exposing social divisions in the gold mining town.

Images emerged of Aboriginal youths smashing the windows of police cars and jumping on car roofs, damaging shops, and a police officer with blood on his face after being hit by an object.

Local police have called for calm, worried about racial tension exploding again, partly driven by an indigenous youth crime problem and Facebook community pages aimed at naming and shaming offenders that have become toxic forums for racist abuse.

"We remind everyone that comments made on social media that are considered racially motivated or that incite violence are being monitored by police and will be investigated," Kalgoorlie police posted on Facebook.

"No arrests have been made at this point and the public are requested not to speculate or draw conclusions on the matter and allow police to conduct the investigation."

Police Superintendent Darryl Gaunt said the man charged over Elijah's death had rented the property.

"We attended a large number of addresses last night, answering and responding to a lot of calls from the public with information," he told ABC radio.

"There's a lot of tension out there and a lot of it has been created by people themselves, usually based on not knowing the facts.

"We're investigating and are close to it, we know don't know all the facts yet ... so how other people can think they know it particularly from places outside of Kalgoorlie is beyond me."

As well as racist postings, there have been persistent rumours about a vigilante culture of payback in which people violently recover stolen dirtbikes by chasing people down, which police deny.

Arson Squad officers were attending the location on Friday.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon