Taree church fire: white supremacist charged

A white supremacist from Sydney's south-west has been charged with setting fire to the Destiny Church in Taree. 

Ricky White appeared in Taree Local Court on Monday accused of deliberately starting the fire at the Destiny Church at 1:30am on Sunday.

Fire and Rescue NSW were able to save the church structure but it still sustained an estimated $200,000 worth of damage.

Mr White, who lives in Ingleburn, was arrested by police on Sunday afternoon on two outstanding warrants and then also charged over the church fire.

The 25-year-old is a self-described skinhead and has an "88" tattoo on one of his hands – the abbreviation used by Neo-Nazis for the salute Heil Hitler.

He has also posted photographs of himself on Facebook wearing a swastika ring and once played in a band known as blitzkrieg88.

Wotansvolk is a white separatist religion that is popular within some prison populations overseas that has its roots in ancestral European paganism. It is understood that Mr White is also the head of the Wotansvolk fraternity in NSW and the second in charge nationally.

Flyers promoting Wotansvolk were allegedly found inside the church by investigators after the blaze had been extinguished.

Senior pastor Kevin Matters said he does not know why someone would target the church, which was affiliated to the Pentecostal movement and set up in Taree in 2012.

"We had a couple of smashed windows a few months ago but we have no idea why they were deliberately broken in then either."

"I have no idea why [we] were targeted, none whatsoever, it's quite surprising to us, we have really no idea why," he said on Monday.

"The detective I spoke with yesterday suggested there was a white supremacist element to it but I don't know of anything myself."

Mr White did not apply for bail when he appeared in court on Monday morning. Along with the arson charges, he had been wanted by police in the Campbelltown area for breaching his bond for firearm offences.

He is due in court again next month.

Nick Ralston, Sydney Morning Herald

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