Update: Teen charged with Aylesford arson to serve time in custody

Kirk Starratt
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Several fire departments were on the scene of a fire in an abandoned barn on Highway 1 in Aylesford Sunday, April 27.

“You have to be brought back under control.”

That was Judge Claudine MacDonald's message to a 17-year-old Kings County boy who pleaded guilty last month to setting fires that destroyed a house and barn in Aylesford.

MacDonald said the only way to do that is to keep him in custody, adding that what he did “goes against our values as a society” and “the public must be protected.”

The teen, who cannot be named due to his age, pleaded guilty May 8 to breaking and entering a residence and committing an indictable offence by intentionally causing damage by fire to a residence, intentionally causing damage by fire to a barn and failing to comply with an undertaking.

He was also facing charges of stealing household items valued at less than $5,000 in Aylesford on April 27.

The boy pleaded guilty on June 19 to charges of theft from the Kingston Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation on Jan. 26; break enter and theft of an Argo belonging to Nova Scotia Power from the G.W. Sampson property in Kingston on Feb. 1; and theft from the Kingston Superstore on March 9.

The youth was handed a six-month custody and supervision order on the charges relating to the fires at the house and barn on April 27, followed by two years of probation.

Considering time spent in remand, the boy will spend another 116 days in custody, followed by 58 days of community supervision.

Crown Jim Fyfe earlier argued that this was an exceptional case where a term of custody was required. MacDonald said incarceration is only used as a last resort with young offenders where there is no other reasonable alternative. She found that the circumstances were exceptional.

“When you decided to set that house on fire, you went about it in a calculated way,” MacDonald said.

Furnace oil was used to set four rooms on fire. MacDonald said the boy “actually had to make an effort to destroy the house” and did so without thought or consideration for the owner and emergency responders.

As he watched the firefighters battle the house fire, the boy and another youth went to a nearby barn, where the boy became a party to burning that structure.

MacDonald said she agreed with the description in the pre-sentence report that the boy “spiraled out of control” until he was arrested and put in custody on the day of the fires. A 15-year-old boy was also arrested and faces charges, although he has yet to appear in court.

MacDonald said the teen has no prior criminal record and he co-operated with police. She said his pre-sentence report indicates he is a suitable candidate for community supervision.

The probation, which also applies to the theft of the Argo, will include daily curfew for the first six months. The remaining charges were dealt with by reprimand.

MacDonald pointed out that the youth was on a number of undertakings at the time of the fires and awaiting trial on other matters.

The boy is charged with uttering threats of death or bodily harm in Cambridge on Feb. 25 in relation to a lockdown at Central Kings Rural High School. He is also accused of sexual assault and sexual touching involving an underage girl in Aylesford on Oct. 29, 2013. These charges are still before the court.

The owner of the burned house is seeking $50,560 in restitution. The property was not insured.

 

Organizations: Kingston Nova Scotia Liquor, Nova Scotia Power

Geographic location: Kings

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Recent comments

  • Sheron Hatt Atwell
    June 26, 2014 - 11:50

    My personal feelings are that we are long overdue for an amendment to the young offenders act. It is not working and there does not seem to be a strong enough alternative for discipline in place. Mr Howe once told me a long time ago that what may be needed is some kind of military/ work like center offering work, education , food, and a warm bed; as an alternative to a adult prison system for young offenders. He may have been right.

  • Sheron Hatt Atwell
    June 26, 2014 - 11:49

    My personal feelings are that we are long overdue for an amendment to the young offenders act. It is not working and there does not seem to be a strong enough alternative for discipline in place. Mr Howe once told me a long time ago that what may be needed is some kind of military/ work like center offering work, education , food, and a warm bed; as an alternative to a adult prison system for young offenders. He may have been right.

  • Mark Levack
    June 25, 2014 - 20:06

    If they'd used this rationale with Daniel Surette when he committed so many crimes as a young offender, Harley Lawrence might still be alive.