ARSON: One of the two juveniles sentenced over $148,000 damages they caused to a Rockhampton school by lighting fires told youth workers he enjoyed it.
ARSON: One of the two juveniles sentenced over $148,000 damages they caused to a Rockhampton school by lighting fires told youth workers he enjoyed it. John McCutcheon

Why teens lit fires at a school and caused $148k damage

ONE of two juvenile boys involved in lighting multiple fires at a Rockhampton school enjoyed it.

Crown prosecutor Tiffany Lawrence informed the court what each juvenile told presentence report writers ahead of their sentencing on Thursday.

Four boys were sentenced for multiple offences, including arson, burglary, attempted armed robbery, unlawful use of motor vehicles, public nuisance, assault, wilful damage and fraud.

READ MORE HERE: Four teens, 18 offence incidents, about 100 charges

Two of the boys - Master B and C - were involved in lighting fires at a Rockhampton school, along with smashing windows and other destructive activities, causing more than $148,000 in damage.

READ WHAT JUDGE IAN DEARDEN SAID ABOUT THE ARSON HERE: Judge lecture to arsonists: art takes time, effort and heart

"Attacks on schools has become too common,” MsLawrence said.

Ms Lawrence said Master B, who is 14 years old, had been exposed to pro-crime attitudes in his childhood, substance abuse, neglect and physical abuse.

She said he presented with grandiose behaviours, speaking highly of himself and taking pride in his anti-social behaviour.

"Prior to the arson, he was looking up bushfires on the internet,” MsLawrence said.

"He had a fascination with fire and explosion.”

Ms Lawrence said Master B had poor frustration tolerance, anger towards youth workers and had been fighting.

"The fire was a way to release his anger and frustration,” she said.

"During it, he felt happy and his anger release.”

Defence barrister Jordan Ahlstrand said the arson was unsophisticated with neither boy making efforts to conceal their identities and their actions were captured on CCTV.

He said his client had since started work experience in the automotive industry and aspired to gain a mechanics apprenticeship.

The other boy involved in the school arson - Master C - had suffered severe bullying due to a disability, for which he was now receiving assistance through the NDIS program - and had resorted to carrying a knife for protection.

Ms Lawrence said he didn't attend the school with intent to damage it, but rather just trespass for fun.

She said he told the report writers it was only after they found flammable glue did they decide to light fires.

Ms Lawrence said Master C, who is 17 years old, felt 'satisfied and calm' after the fires.

Master C was one of three juveniles involved in an attempted armed robbery of a man on his way to a gym at 1.15am on July30, 2018.

Ms Lawrence said Master C told the report writer he felt he could not refuse to participate out of fear of losing friends.

Master C participated in the Restorative Justice conference with victims of the arson, showing remorse and wrote a letter of apology to be delivered to the victim of the robbery.

He has also participated in a Fight Fire Fascination program run by the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services which the court heard he planned to complete.

Ms Lawrence said Master A, who was the juvenile who threatened the gym man with a knife, told report writers the primary reason for the majority of his offending was to get food and illicit substances.

The court heard Master A had taken issue with his mother's new boyfriend, went to live with his father who was struggling financially, and ended up on the streets.

"At the time of the offending, he was living in a unit with one of his co-offenders,” MsLawrence said.

"They were out on the day of the robbery looking for food.”

She said Master A has not attended school since February2017.

Ms Lawrence said he has shown signs of remorse by writing a letter of apology.

Master A spent 47 days in presentence custody, which he described as a negative experience.

Defence barrister Maree Willy said since his release, he had acquired his own bank account, had moved into stable accommodation and was learning life skills.

She said he had also re-engaged with education and hoped to complete Year12 before gaining an apprenticeship or further studies in IT.

The youngest of the four, Master D, had had a disadvantaged life so far, being exposed to violence, substance abuse and abandonment.

He had been placed in the care of his grandmother who asked him to leave at one stage due to his offending, but had taken him back in after this week's sentence.

Master D had been encouraged to offend by negative peers, has a substance abuse problem consuming marijuana and chroming.

Ms Lawrence said the report writer noted the primary contributing factor to his offending was the substance abuse which he needed to tackle.

Master D had completely disengaged with education last year. His grandmother has already enrolled him in an education institution.

Master D continued to abscond while on a 24-hour curfew bail condition.

Ms Lawrence said he had little regard for the property of others with the report writer noting he did not think of his victims before, during or after his offending.

Mr Ahlstrand, who also represented Master D, said his grandmother was in court to support him.

He described Master D's grandmother as an "affable and courteous woman”.



Fire inside building reported at 4am

premium_icon Fire inside building reported at 4am

The burning material was taken outside to be extinguished.

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