page 3 sydney
morning herald friday november 26 1976
a 25 yr old cook who set fire to the savoy
hotel last christmas day was sentenced to four terms of life imprisonment
yesterday for the murder of four people who died in the fire.
he is Reginald john little of barncleuth
square kings cross
the crown case was that little had set fire
to a pile of newspapers near a rear door of the hotel causing a fire which
spread throughout the hotel and killed 15 people
mr justice beg also sentenced little in the
central criminal court to 14 yrs jail for maliciously setting fire to the
hotel. he said he would not set a non parole period.
little had pleaded not guilty to the murder
of robert howard lewis.catherine louisa loy, eduard sackl and marry eileen
he had also pleaded not guilty to having
maliciously set fire to a dwelling knowing a person to be in side
the jury found him guilty on all five counts
after retiring for two hours at the end of a 13 day trial.
mr justice begg said that in view of the
verdicts it would not be necessary for the jury to return a verdict on a
charge of having maliciously set fire to a quantity of newspapers, to which
little had also pleaded not guilty
mr justice begg told the jury men they had
reached the only possible verdicts ,on the evidence. he excused them from
further jury service for three years
detective-sergeant j.g.hill of darlinghurst
said little had lived with his parents at Maitland until he was four and had
then lived in a boys home until he was 15 when he also left school
he had the returned to live with his parents
and had remained with them until he was 18.
detective -sergeant hill said he did not
associate with criminals, but did associate with homosexuals.
the crown case was that 60 people were booked
into the Savoy, a private residential hotel, last December 25 when a fire
broke out about 5am.
according to a record of interview, little
had told police: I was upset with not being able to find anyone to take
home. I seen the newspapers stacked inside the door and I just lit the fire
with a cigarette lighter.,. I was just trying to relive some tension in me.
in evidence, little said he had nothing to do
with the fire. he also said he told police he had had nothing to do with a
fire at barncleuth square in February.
after the verdict littles record was read
out. beginning with a charge of arson in the children's court in 1967.
subsequent charges including stealing,
breaking-entering and stealing, forging and uttering obscene language and
willful destruction of property.