Derek Trego, 23, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of arson.
He is charged with wilfully setting fire to a beach cottage property of Richard Ireton at Avana Point, in Turangi.
Defence lawyer Wilkie Rasmussen has rejected any connection between his client’s action and a community protest against the development taking place at Avana Point.
The historic site was leased by Ireton and his Cook Islands partner Jessica Lennan, who cleared ancient makatea rock and native vegetation to ready the property for the construction of a big new home.
Despite their “no trespassing” signs, the porta-cabin they had placed on the site was allegedly firebombed.
Defence lawyer Wilkie Rasmussen said he has been through a long period of discussion with Trego and through the medical mental health report, they decided to enter a not guilty plea.
He said this was because the report said that Trego was unwell prior to the offence and after the offence, mentally unwell.
Rasmussen said they would enter into discussions with the police and Crown Law about the matter, as Trego faced a serious charge.
His client had been receiving treatment, he confirmed, was now employed and had settled well and recovered.
He requested a month’s adjournment for discussion with police and Crown Law.
Crown Law’s Jana Epati agreed to this and said they needed to determine whether the matter could be resolved or they would set a date for hearing.
Trego is on strict bail conditions and curfew.