Boy, 15, sentenced over One Mile school fire
THE young man who set fire to and destroyed part of One Mile State School in 2017 has been spared a substantial jail sentence only because of his youth.
The child, aged 15 now and 14 when he committed the offences in June 2017, pleaded guilty to charges of arson, breaking and entering and stealing and wilful damage during Children's Court proceedings at Gympie District Court yesterday morning.
The fire destroyed the C-Block classrooms and caused further disruptions to the school's power and water supply, which had run underneath the mangled building.
The court heard the child, along with another young man co-accused in the matter, had been smoking cannabis, hanging around and "being generally delinquent" on the night of the fire.
The pair entered the school grounds and the co-accused gained access before both entered a classroom and stole multiple items, including paint.
They then used the paint to graffiti an outside footpath, writing "juvenile messages", drawing images of penises and scrawling "drug slang talk" before leaving the scene for the first time.
The court heard the two then re-entered school grounds with the initial intention of stealing more items, but the boy in court poured methylated spirits over other items and set it alight, starting the fire which would later cost more than $4million to fix.
Conversations between the two youths, later recalled in the co-accused's interviews with police, revealed the boy's motivations for starting the fire had been to "destroy evidence".
Judge Glen Cash told the boy he "ought to be deeply ashamed" for the destruction he caused on that night.
"If you were 18 or 19 when you did this, you would be going to jail without any doubt, and you'd be going to jail for something likely more than 3 years' imprisonment," Judge Cash said in his sentencing remarks.
The boy's guilty pleas were not considered early in comparison to those of his co-accused, who delivered the bulk of the evidence in his co-operation with police.
Judge Cash noted the boy's "eye-opening" 19 days spent in detention following the offences, followed by his compliance over 18 months in a conditional bail program.
He was sentenced to two years' probation and 80 total hours of community service, including 20 specifically toward graffiti removal. No convictions were recorded.