The owner of the historic Premier Hotel gutted by arson in May has been suddenly charged with multiple offenses relating to the alleged fraud.

In May news broke that a 125-year-old pub in Albany, Western Australia, was mostly destroyed after two men supposedly beat the owner, stole money and set the building alight with four people sleeping inside.

Police appealed to the public for information, releasing CCTV footage (below) and after months of investigation, composite images of the two men seen in the video wearing masks.

This led to the arrest last Thursday (1 September) of two Mandurah men, 30-year-old Karl Hutchinson, and 29-year-old Christopher Lyndon Paterson. The pair appeared in court Friday, charged with causing criminal damage and endangering life.

Graeme Roderick Cooper. Image: Facebook
Graeme Roderick Cooper. Image: Facebook

But in a shock twist, the ABC reported on Saturday (3 September) that the Hotel’s co-owner, 34-year-old Graeme Roderick Cooper, had now also been charged, alongside another man, 34-year-old Scott John Gay.

Cooper and Gay face charges of causing criminal damage, endangering life and attempted fraud, but no further details have emerged on how they came to be suspects. Both were remanded in custody and appeared briefly before Perth Magistrates Court on Saturday, but were not required to enter pleas.

Central Law Courts confirmed to PubTIC the men appeared again today, when the matter was scheduled for a bail hearing on Wednesday.

Cooper owns the pub with his partner, Rumeena Nizam, and had only taken over the business seven months prior to the fire. It is understood police are not investigating Nizam for any part in the alleged crimes.

Damage from the fire is estimated at around $2 million.

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