Detectives in Victoria are not allowing the embers of a decades-old investigation into an arson fatality to flicker out, despite the passage of time.
They have again appealed for information about a 1991 fire in the Melbourne suburb of Toorak that left a 22-year-old Malaysian national dead at the scene.
Detectives from the Arson and Explosives Squad believe an unidentified woman might hold the information needed to solve the mystery of the three-decade-old fire.
About 5.30am on 17 December 1991, emergency services were called to Efficient Ships on the corner of Toorak Road and MacFarlan Street following reports of a loud explosion and subsequent fire.
Upon extinguishing the blaze, firefighters located the body of Clement David in the kitchen of the premises. The Hawthorn East man was a Malaysian national living and studying in Australia at the time.
Dead man was friends with owners of the business
Investigators believe 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 its planning.
A review of the investigation was conducted by investigators earlier this year, which led to them pursuing a number of other avenues of enquiry.
Witnesses have reported they heard a woman screaming following the explosion, as well as footsteps of someone running away along MacFarlan Street.
While it is yet to be determined if this is the same person, detectives are now looking at the possibility the woman may have been involved in the incident.
Photo released of rental car that may provide clues
Investigators also located a red Nissan Skyline near the scene and inquiries identified the car to be a rental vehicle used by Clement.
An image of the vehicle has been released in the hope that someone may recognise it and be able provide information about its occupants on the night of the fire.
“Although almost 30 years have passed, we still believe this is an investigation that can be solved,” said Detective Inspector Steve Soden.
“We believe the woman heard at the scene screaming, the running footsteps heard, and the vehicle could be the missing pieces of the puzzle.
“Investigators are very keen to hear from anyone who knows who this woman was and what her involvement was on the night.”