A former nurse has admitted starting a fire which killed 11 elderly residents at a Sydney nursing home in 2011.

Roger Dean appeared in court on Monday and pleaded guilty to 11 counts of murder as well as eight counts of grievous bodily harm after residents at the Quakers Hill nursing home, some of whom suffered dementia or were blind, were badly injured.

Dean, who has previously pleaded guilty to stealing drugs and medical record books from the home, will now face a sentencing hearing at a later date.

Hundreds of fire fighters battled flames and plumes of thick smoke to evacuate more than 80 elderly residents after the fire broke out in the nursing home in November 2011. Three elderly residents died during the inferno and eight others succumbed to injuries later.

Dean, interviewed at the scene as firefighters battled the blaze, was initially hailed as a hero after he told media that he “just quickly did what I could to get everyone out”.

The court has previously heard Dean started the blaze at two separate points in the building, which was left badly damaged, reports The Australian.