Police seek information RE 1991 fatal restaurant fire – Toorak

Detectives from the Arson and Explosives Squad are hoping a mystery person holds the key to solving a fatal cafe fire in Toorak almost 30 years ago.

Emergency services were called to Efficient Ships on the corner of Toorak Road and MacFarlan Street just after 5.30am on 17 December, 1991 following reports of a loud explosion and subsequent fire.

Firefighters were able to extinguish the fire and located the body of Clement David in the kitchen of the premises.

The 22-year-old man was a Malaysian national living and studying in Australia at the time.

At the time of his death he resided in Hawthorn East with his brother.

Clement was also friends with the family who owned the café and had been at the premises until 2am on the morning of his death.

No one else was injured during the incident, however the premises sustained significant damage.

An investigation by police and arson chemists at the time determined the fire had been deliberately lit.

Flammable liquid, believed to be petrol, was soaked into the carpet of the café.

Detectives believe that Clement was involved in starting the fire that led to his death, however it is likely that other people were also involved in the planning of the fire.

The motive for the fire is still to be established.

Over the past two years, police have been contacted twice anonymously by a person who has provided information about others possibly involved in the fire.

Today, detectives from the Arson and Explosives Squad are making a renewed appeal for information about the fire and urging that person to get in touch again.

“As a result of this information, a decision was made to review this case and hopefully casting fresh eyes over it will make all the difference,” Officer in Charge of the Arson and Explosives Squad, Detective Inspector Glenn Harriss said.

“It’s been almost 30 years since it happened but this highlights to us that there are still people out there who know why the fire was started and who was involved.

“I think the fact they have been in touch twice also shows they are interested in seeing that person or persons brought to justice, so I am asking them to contact police again so we can find out more about what they know.

“This case is absolutely still active and ongoing and we’re hopeful of finally being able to have some answers.”

Detectives are appealing for anyone who was in the area on the night of the fire and witnessed any suspicious activity to come forward.

Anyone with information is urged contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report online at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au

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