A fire that destroyed a new near-complete Melbourne pub last October was deliberately lit by the builder struggling to meet the opening deadline.
Police investigated the arson attack, reported by Andrew Winston McMahon at the time as started by two men in balaclavas he surprised in the early morning, who subsequently beat and left him to die in the blaze.
Initial thoughts centred on rival businesses operated by outlaw motorcycle gangs, but investigators became suspicious when they discovered power to the site, which was due to open in just 11 days, had been cut just prior to the attack, rendering the CCTV inoperative.
McMahon’s contracted building company, Winston Mac P/L, was struggling financially and reportedly behind schedule on several projects, including the Albion site.
Police charged McMahon with arson, after he admitted to them to starting the fire due to panic over his inability to complete the ambitious renovation project of the former motel-nightclub on schedule, Sourcable reports.
The Albion was a joint venture involving several identities from professional football, including Melbourne Storm players Robbie Kearns and Danny Williams, brother of former Western Bulldogs’ Luke Darcy, Mathew Darcy, and most prominently, Collingwood star Dane Swan.
The fire destroyed the Hotel as well as damaging adjoining properties, with total losses estimated around $5 million.
McMahon faced Melbourne Magistrates Court on one count of arson, and will reappear 5 October.