Ipswich Courthouse. Picture: Cordell Richardson
Ipswich Courthouse. Picture: Cordell Richardson

Ipswich move was ‘good news’ for fire girl

A GIRL who tried to burn down a house has made such dramatic changes to her life that an Ipswich judge described it as being “a good news story”.

Returning to school studies and leading a more settled life the court heard that the girl, now aged 15, had a much brighter future.

Appearing before Judge Dennis Lynch QC in Ipswich Children’s Court, the girl pleaded guilty to endangering property by fire on November 21, 2018.

Crown prosecutor Jeremy Trost said the girl had just turned 14 at the time of the offence which in Cairns.

She had no previous history but had since been sentenced in May last year to a supervised 12-month probation order for offences that occurred after the fire.

Mr Trost said the girl was in a residential care house when she argued with her mother who was living elsewhere.

She set fire to her bedroom curtains and mattress and left the house.

On her way out she failed to tell other people in the house there was a fire.

The fire caused a $3500 damage bill.

Mr Trost said there was significant offending done after this but since May 2019 there was no record of any more offences.

She had since moved from North Queensland to Ipswich.

Defence barrister Geoffrey Seaholme made no secret in his submission to the court as to how impressed he was by the efforts made by the girl to turn her life around.

“In my 21 years of coming to this court never have I seen such a report that by coming to Ipswich has been a good thing for her. She has made remarkable changes in her life.

“Her transition to Ipswich and the transformation to her can only be described as remarkable.

“She is engaged in school, church, and with the Department of Child Safety.

“And effectively done 18-month probation with no breaches, no further offending.

“She says those days are over, gone.”

Judge Lynch said he wanted to congratulate the girl in turning her life around after reading the positive reports.

“I see a lot of sad tales involving young people who haven’t found a way to turn their life around,” he said.

“It is a good news story. You on the right path and building a future for yourself.”

Judge Lynch said the teen set fire to the furnishings so situated that a building would likely catch fire.

It was done after she contacted her mother to ask if she could stay with her but her mother refused.

Judge Lynch said the fire was potentially dangerous and caused a risk of doing very real harm to others but fortunately no one was harmed.

He said the court reports reveal she suffered a great deal of trauma in her life that caused her significant mental health consequences.

“You now have insight, remorse. You have demonstrated a real change of attitude,” he said.

“And engaged in a very significant way with education given that you had dropped out all together.”

Judge Lynch said the teen appeared to be thriving in her now ordered life in Ipswich.

He sentenced her to a six month probation order.

Given her very young age, new circumstances and future ahead of her, a conviction was not recorded against her.

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