14-year-old's fire lighting habit 'troubling'
A 14-YEAR-OLD youth lit four fires in a year - three in January.
The teenager was sentenced in Rockhampton District Court on Thursday after pleading guilty to one charge of unlawfully lighting a fire which endangered property.
The court heard he had been sentenced in February for three fires lit in January, all along the Fitzroy River bank. The boy received nine months' probation and 60 hours of community service, of which he has completed 55.5 hours.
Crown prosecutor Alexandra Baker said the youth had lit a fire on January 16 on Raymond Huish Drive near the gangway and returned four days later to light two more.
She said while police were reviewing CCTV for the first fire on January 20, the juvenile lit the second one.
Ms Baker said when police caught up with him on his bicycle that night, he smelt of smoke.
He was on bail at the time for a fire he lit at Mt Morgan in May 2017, which was the charge he was sentenced for in the District Court this week.
Ms Baker said the May arson incident involved two other people.
She said they were in a toilet block near the School of Arts building when the defendant lit a piece of cardboard and then held it up to a paper towel dispenser.
Ms Baker said he then went to a nearby video shop and asked to use the phone to report the fire, pointing the finger at someone else for lighting it.
The court was told the fire scorched the wall and ceiling of the besser block building.
At the time of the Mount Morgan fire, the juvenile was on a good behaviour bond after being sentenced in court for throwing rocks at cars in Mackay.
Defence barrister Ross Lo Monaco said despite currently being suspended from school, the 14-year-old did enjoy school and wants to complete his education.
"He does have some difficulty mixing with his peers,” he said.
Mr Lo Monaco said his offending was the result of boredom.
Judge Michael Burnett told the teenager his criminal history was "becoming a little troubling”.
"Arson is a very serious offence,” he said.
"When you are 18, if you lit a fire you will go to prison.”
Judge Burnett ordered the youth to a further 12 months' probation and 75 hours of community service. No conviction was recorded.