A MAN will return to court later this month, accused of sparking a massive bushfire to allegedly protect a hidden cannabis crop.
Gavin James Gardiner did not appear in Armidale Local Court on Wednesday but is accused of deliberately lighting a bushfire that spiralled out of control and threatened homes near Ebor, east of Armidale.
The 51-year-old is accused of sparking the massive Guyra Road, Ebor, fire that eventually burnt more than 22,800 hectares.
Gardiner is yet to enter pleas to charges of of intentionally causing fire and being reckless as to its spread; as well dishonestly for gain damaging property by fire.
In court on Wednesday morning, Gardiner made no fresh bid for bail and it was formally refused.
Magistrate Michael Holmes adjourned the case to later this month.
The 51-year-old has been in custody since his arrest at a hotel in Ebor on November 15 - a day after the fire was allegedly sparked.
He lodged a bid for bail after his arrest, but it was denied in an out-of-sessions bail hearing in court.
Gardiner faces up to 21 years' imprisonment if he is convicted of intentionally lighting the fire - which police claim he did during a total fire ban.
Detectives allege Gardiner did so to backburn around a cannabis crop, and also because he would gain from doing jobs during the recovery efforts.
It's the police case that Gardiner deliberately set fire to bushland off Guyra Road about 5pm on November 14, about 10km west of Ebor village.
Police allege he made no attempt to control the blaze.