New claims alleged bank arsonist a gambler desperate for cash

More details are emerging about the desperate financial state of the man accused of setting himself alight in a Springvale Bank, injuring staff and customers.

Seven News has been told the Myanmar refugee was a gambling addict who’d run out of money.

Hazma’s encounter with an alleged arsonist has left the university student shaken.

While playing the pokies at a Springvale TAB a few ago, a man offered to his iPhone for $50.

Hazma said he was convinced the man he met was the man accused of starting the fire in the Commonwealth Bank. Photo: 7 News
Hazma said he was convinced the man he met was the man accused of starting the fire in the Commonwealth Bank. Photo: 7 News

“He said he was from Myanmar, lived on his own here,” Hazma said.

“If selling an iPhone for 50 bucks when you could get 600 for it doesn’t say desperation I don’t know what does.”

Hazma is convinced the man was Nur Islam – the refugee alleged to have set himself on fire on Friday inside the Commonwealth Bank, injuring 26 people.


Nur’s housemate told 7 News he’d given the 21-year-old a phone so he could contact his case worker, but it had recently gone missing.

Hazma says despite Nur losing all his money playing pokies, he watched Hazma gambling for hours, and asked to borrow money.

“He pulled out a Commonwealth Bank card and some documents, like creation of account documents,” he said.

“He said, “I’ve got $40 or $50 in the account, come with me tomorrow, just lend me another 50”.”

The blaze injured 26 bystanders and left the alleged perpertrator in hospital in a critical condition. Photo: 7 News
The blaze injured 26 bystanders and left the alleged perpertrator in hospital in a critical condition. Photo: 7 News

As the community struggles to understand why this tragedy occurred the premier urged calm.

One of the victims was discharged from The Alfred overnight. Three others remain.

The alleged offender is still in a critical condition.

The arson squad says it will be some days before he is able to be interviewed.

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