22 Mar 2024

Loafers Lodge fire accused pleads not guilty

10:56 am on 22 March 2024
Loafers Lodge, Wellington on 25 May 2023.

Loafers Lodge, Wellington. Photo: RNZ / Hamish Cardwell

The man accused of murdering five people in the Loafers Lodge fire in Wellington has pleaded not guilty.

The man, who has interim name suppression until the beginning of the trial, appeared via audiovisual link at Wellington High Court on Friday.

His lawyer Louise Sziranyi told the court the defence of insanity would be relied upon during the trial.

The man had also denied two charges of arson.

Five people died at the multi-storey budget accommodation on Adelaide Road in May 2023.

More than 50 people were rescued, and many lost precious belongings, although some were able to be recovered.

The man was charged with murder and arson a few weeks after the blaze, but until now had not formally entered a plea.

The trial was set down to begin in August.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs