SALISBURY – A judge issued an arrest warrant Wednesday for an Amesbury man after he failed to appear in court for a hearing to face a charge of trying to burn down the Essex County Sheriff’s Office of Community Corrections building in September.
Najib G. Daaboul, 29, of Elizabeth Street was arrested hours after he allegedly set fire to the Elm Street building Sept. 7 and arraigned two days later in Newburyport District Court on charges of attempted arson and vandalizing property.
He remained in custody for more than a week until he was released on $1,000 cash bail. Until a possible trial, Daaboul was ordered to stay out of trouble with the law, stay out of Salisbury, wear a GPS tracking unit, live with his father in Amesbury, and attend every court appearance.
In December, Daaboul also missed a scheduled court appearance. His attorney told Judge Allen Swan that his client had mistakenly gone to Salem Superior Court, believing he was indicted by a grand jury there. Swan then scheduled a probable cause hearing for Wednesday.
But Daaboul failed to appear for the hearing, which prompted Swan to issue the arrest warrant.
Daaboul worked next door to the Elm Street facility at Salisbury Auto Center, which is owned by his father, and was spotted there by police shortly after the fire was put out by Salisbury firefighters, according to court records.
When approached by police, he quickly denied any involvement, but witnesses, including two who work for the court system, saw him walking behind the building shortly before the fire broke out on the rear porch, according to police.
The employees had just returned to the community corrections building to drop off a group who had finished community service in the area.
The employees walked behind the building and found the fire under the rear porch. One tried to put out the fire with an extinguisher but found it had grown too large. By this time, Salisbury firefighters arrived and put out the fire before it spread to the main building.
Salisbury fire Capt. Andy Murphy said the porch skirting was intentionally damaged and firefighters found the remains of a pizza box that had been set on fire and pushed under the porch with a mop.
Believing the fire was deliberately set, a state police arson team was called and the porch cordoned off with yellow police tape. The arson team was able to obtain fingerprints from the mop handle.
Based on the witnesses and the different stories told to police officers, Daaboul was handcuffed and arrested less than three hours after the fire.
Staff writer Dave Rogers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.