The West

Mt Lawley fire teens take lesser charge
Mt Lawley fire teens take lesser charge

Two teenage boys charged over the $9 million fire that gutted Mt Lawley Primary School last year pleaded guilty to a downgraded offence today.

The boys, at the time aged 15 and 16, were originally charged with arson over the blaze on July 7 last year.

In Perth Children’s Court today, the criminal damage by fire charges were withdrawn by the prosecution and replaced with less serious charges of being negligent with a fire, meaning they were in control of a fire and failed to take reasonable care and precaution to contain the fire which caused damage.

Both teenagers pleaded guilty to that charge, with one boy also pleading guilty to a charge of possessing cannabis in August last year.

The boys set fire to chairs under the veranda of the school’s courtyard before the blaze quickly spread out of control. The damage was so extensive that the historic school needs to be completely rebuilt.

Defence lawyer Ben Tyers said the boys’ actions were not deliberate.

“They set fire to a couple of chairs, they thought it would go out, it didn’t and tragic consequences affecting the whole school ensued,” he said.

Another defence lawyer said she would be arguing her client, who had no previous record, should be dealt with by a referral to the juvenile justice team.

Children’s Court president Judge Denis Reynolds said he would consider all sentencing options and ordered pre-sentence reports. He will sentence the boys later this month.

One of the boys had a bail curfew condition changed, allowing him to leave his house with a social worker in addition to his parents.

A girl, initially charged as a co-accused, escaped with a police caution.

The West Australian

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