September 28, 2022

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WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised this story contains images of a person who is deceased.

A man has been arrested over the suspected murder of a Sydney teenager, who died after getting trapped in a fire at a sleepover in 1988.

Arthur Haines was staying at a friend’s house on Walker Street in Waterloo when a fire broke out, sparked by a Molotov cocktail.

The 13-year-old became trapped on the top floor and suffered burns to 60 per cent of his body. He died from his injuries 11 weeks later.

Arthur Haines died 11 weeks after a house fire in Waterloo, Sydney, in 1998.
Arthur Haines died 11 weeks after a house fire in Waterloo, Sydney, in 1998. (NSW Police)

A forensic investigation found the fire on April 9, 1998, was deliberately lit, and in January 2020 was referred to detectives from the State Crime Command’s Homicide Squad for re-investigation under Strike Force Belemba II.

In June that year the reward for information about the teenager’s death was increased from $100,000 to $1 million.

Yesterday, police made the first breakthrough in the case in decades.

Strike Force Belemba II detectives were granted an arrest warrant for a man, 55, living in Queensland.

Officers from the Queensland Police Service Homicide Investigation Unit went to a house in Brisbane and took the man into custody.

NSW Police detectives are now in Queensland and will face Brisbane Magistrates Court to apply to extradite the 55-year-old.

Police said they will release more information after the extradition to NSW has been granted and completed.

In the more than 20 years since his death, Haines’ mother Julie Szabo has made many appeals to find out what happened to her only child.

Julianne Szabo Arthur Haines mother 2020
Arthur Haines’ mother, Julianne Szabo, speaking on the anniversary for her son’s death in 2020. (Steven Siewert)

Speaking on the 22nd anniversary of his death, she said she thought about her son every day.

“All this time, it’s been heartache,” she said.

“When I wake up until I go to bed, I never stop thinking about my son – what he would have been, how he would have been, and what he would have become.

“As a mum, you never give up on your children.”

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