Police continue to investigate ATET fire

Police continue to investigate ATET fire
Sean Car

Victoria Police is still hunting those responsible for the arson attack on floating events space ATET in January last year, but Docklands News understands detectives are confident that it was a paid job.

Since the attack took place at around 4.30am on the morning of January 31 last year, a lot has happened surrounding ATET’s operations in Docklands, which ultimately ended with its sudden closure in June after the City of Melbourne terminated its licence.

That termination, which ATET claims was “unlawful” having demonstrated compliance with its permit, is now the subject of a legal dispute after the business filed proceedings against the council and the landowner Development Victoria (DV) with the Supreme Court in December.

But while the venue was no stranger to controversy having been a magnet for complaints from local residents affected by noise since its opening in October 2022, the arson attack marked the flashpoint in its short eight-month lifespan.

The incident on the morning of January 31, which forced ATET into closure for a number of weeks, occurred just three months after it opened, and many anticipated a brief investigation after the alleged arsonists were captured on e-scooters on CCTV.

Despite up to 16 cameras believed to be located around the North Wharf-Victoria Harbour area, police have still yet to release any CCTV images or public appeals for information relating to the incident.

However, while earlier news reports suggested those responsible fled the scene on e-scooters after setting fire to the barge, Docklands News understands that the perpetrators were captured fleeing on foot.

One source, who requested anonymity, confirmed with Docklands News at the time of the incident that e-scooters were, in fact, captured on CCTV hours prior to the incident, allegedly scoping out the venue.

The arson attack, which eventually took place at around 4.30am, is believed to have been carried out on foot.

When contacted by Docklands News, ATET’s owner Jake Hughes was unable to comment on the police investigation other than to say he was still awaiting further information.

While police continue to hone in on their suspects, ATET remains closed to business in Victoria Harbour while the venue’s management progress their legal case against the council and DV.

Mr Hughes said it was disappointing that the venue sat unused at North Wharf after he claimed the business had attempted to negotiate with the council for months to change the venue’s operations prior to its licence being terminated.

ATET’s legal representatives are still awaiting the City of Melbourne and the DV to file their defences to its legal action, with the case due for mediation in September. •

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