A man has been charged with murder and a community remains in shock following a house fire in which the body of a Raymond Terrace grandmother was discovered over the weekend.
Ronald John Reeves, 69, was charged with murder (domestic violence) and destroying property with intent to endanger life on Monday following the death of Janice ‘Jan’ Garrett in the early hours of Saturday morning.
He appeared at Newcastle Local court on the same day where bail was formally refused.
Fire ripped through the suburban home on Rosemount Drive about 12.30am on Saturday, July 7. Emergency services worked to extinguish the flames of the brick-veneer home throughout Saturday morning, discovering Ms Garrett’s body within the charred remains. According to police, Reeves was arrested following a crash at Bulahdelah between a Nissan X-Trail and a truck, about 1.20am on the Saturday. He was taken to John Hunter Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Reeves and Ms Garrett were known to each other, court documents have his address as the same as Ms Garrett’s, though the nature of the relationship has not been made clear.
In the days following the fire, members of the community left flowers and notes of condolences to the ‘much loved’ grandmother who had lived in her home on the quiet street for more than 30 years.
She has been described as as a kind and generous woman ‘who would do anything for anyone’.
“Jan was a very nice person – she did not deserve to go this way. I just can’t understand,” said Norma Mills who was Ms Garrett’s neighbour of 34 years.
Neighbour of 17 years Peter Kafer had earlier told Fairfax Media that Ms Garrett ‘had a heart of gold’.
“She was a beautiful person, a genuine person with a heart of gold who had no bad words for anyone, ever. “She would help anyone,” he said.
“She had a very close family and loved her kids and her grand kids – her daughter is absolutely shattered and gutted.
“Nothing like this ever happens here. You occasionally hear about a break and enter but that’s about all.”
Reeves was bail refused on July 9 to appear at Newcastle Local Court on September 6.