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Teen escapes conviction on arson charge

Tuesday November 29, 2016 Written by Published in Crime

A TEENAGER who was arrested this year and charged with arson over a fire that occurred at Tereora College in 2013, has been sentenced with no conviction and fined a $300 reparation fee.

 

The teen, whose identity was supressed, appeared before Judge Justice Christine Grice at the Cook Islands High Court yesterday.

The court heard that in 2013, the teenager took a 1.5 litre soft drink bottle, filled it with petrol and used a lighter to set fire to the college science laboratory window.

The teen is said to have ran away and the fire was put out by a local baker.

Alison Mills of Crown Law said the charge had arisen as a result of an investigation into another fire at the college in August this year. The arson had affected teachers and students and if it had not been for the person who had noticed it and put it out, the fire would have been worse.

In mitigation, she said the teen had cooperated fully, had shown good conduct and behaviour and had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

Defence lawyer Mark Short said his client did not dispute any of the facts presented to the court and was remorseful.

Short asked that his client not be convicted as the defendant had a promising future and career.

Justice Grice said that in a normal arson matter she would look at imprisonment for six months, because arson was an “awful” crime and a serious matter in the Cook Islands. However, she proposed to deal with this matter differently as the charges involved a matter that had occurred three years ago.

Justice Grice said the defendant’s early guilty plea and show of remorse and the fact that it was the teen’s first appearance in court were mitigating factors.

 “The offence was serious but there were little damage.”

Justice Grice said the teen had bright prospects for the future and a conviction could affect the defendant’s achievements.

“I grant a discharge without conviction because you have proven you are on a path to a brighter career,” Justice Grice told the defendant.

The teen was ordered to pay court costs of $50.