Melbourne: An Australian man accused of deliberately lighting two fires at a Sydney nursing home that killed 11 elderly residents pleaded guilty to murder today.
37-year-old Roger Dean, who was a nurse at the Quakers Hill nursing home, was charged days after the fire ripped through the place in the early hours of November 18, 2011, an Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) report said.
There were more than 80 residents in the nursing home when the fire broke out. Some victims succumbed to the blaze while others died from injuries sustained in the fire.
During today`s proceedings at the Darlinghurst courthouse, the public gallery was packed with relatives of the victims, some of them having to leave the room in tears during the pleas, the report said.
Elly Valkay, whose mother Neeltje Valkay was killed, said the guilty pleas were the best outcome.
"It wasn`t happiness of course, I still miss my mother very much and the rest of our family miss her greatly, especially her grandchildren," she said.
"It was, I think, joy in my heart to see that my mother would say `yes justice is going to be done and we`re going to see it`."
Valkay says she had been very close to her mother. "I saw her six days a week," she added.
"I still do the wrong left hand turn to go home and go past the nursing home. There has been upheaval in our family because we miss her so much. There have been nights of no sleep...I still have nightmares."
Dean had initially pleaded not guilty to the murder charges last year, after an offer to plead guilty to manslaughter for starting the fire was knocked back.
He will be sentenced by Justice Megan Latham at a later date but will face court again on Thursday when this date will be fixed.