Man charged with murder of 13yo Arthur Haines after Waterloo house fire

A man has been charged with murder after a 13-year-old boy died in a house fire in inner Sydney in what police allege was the result of a dispute between neighbours.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that the following story contains images of a person who has died.

Arthur Haines was on a sleepover with friends when the house in Waterloo was engulfed with flames on April 9, 1998.

The teenager eventually managed to escape but by that time had suffered burns to 60 per cent of his body.

He was taken to hospital where he died 11 weeks later.

Arthur Haines died 11 weeks after suffering extensive burns in an Arson attack in 1998.(Supplied: NSW Police)

Gregory John Walker, 55, was today charged with murder and six counts of damaging property with intent to endanger life after being extradited from Queensland.

Detectives claim Mr Walker threw a petrol bomb at the house after falling out with the family who lived there.

“Police will allege this stemmed from a neighbor dispute and it escalated very quickly,” Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty said.

He said Arthur was “completely innocent” and “was unable to get out of the house.”

Police say five other people were in the house when it was set alight, including a one-year-old baby girl.

A man and a woman hug with a cameraman in the background.
Julie Szabo, mother of Arthur Haines, thanked NSW Police Detective Superintendent Danny Doherty.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

Arthur’s mother Julie Szabo said she was “ecstatic” to get a phone call yesterday telling her that police had made an arrest.

“It’s very hard to go through life without my son,” Ms Szabo said.

“I miss him and I love him dearly and I always want him to be remembered as the brave and courageous boy he was.”

Detective Superintendent Doherty commended investigators for their tenacity, saying the arrest was “24 years in the making.”

He said the breakthrough came after a $1 million reward was offered for information from the public.

“People did come forward. People have provided information that has enabled us to put this man before the court,” Detective Superintendent Doherty said.

“It has given an incentive for people to open up and not keep a secret.”

Mr Walker was flown to Sydney on Friday morning after being arrested on the streets of Brisbane’s CBD on Wednesday.

Police said the suspect had been out of Sydney “for some time” and that Queensland police had been involved in helping to track him down.

He did not appear in person or via video link when the case was briefly mentioned in Sydney’s Downing Center Local Court this afternoon.

There was no application for bail and the case will return to court on October 13.

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