Teen sets fire to house over aircon row
A TROUBLED teenager has now set fire to two of her Department of Child Safety care homes because of disagreements with her carers, Ipswich Children's Court has heard.
The 17-year-old girl was this week back before the same judge who sentenced her earlier this year over another house fire which she deliberately lit under very similar circumstances.
An apparent trigger was a worker turning on an air conditioner despite the teenager feeling cold.
Appearing before Judge Alexander Horneman-Wren SC, she pleaded guilty to unlawfully committing arson at Brassall on February 9 this year; and causing wilful damage.
Crown prosecutor Victoria Adams said the girl kicked several holes in the garage walls and damaged a door and walls to the residential care house.
She then set a fire by putting clothes on top of the stove and setting them alight, with the fire spreading to cupboards.
Ms Adams said it was the second time the teen had done this within a year.
The fire caused extensive damage to the kitchen and dining rooms, and melted an air conditioner.
Ms Adams said the teen had a lengthy and concerning history in the Children's Court.
Judge Horneman-Wren said this was in the context "of her particularly challenging life".
Ms Adams said the teen had only been in the Brassall house one week when something upset her and she began yelling and kicking holes in the walls.
She also threw a chair through a glass door.
The court was told the girl's carers were outside when the fire alarm started going off as a result of the fire.
Ms Adams said the teen had received an 18-month supervised probation order in February for other offences.
Defence barrister Amelia Loode said reports outlined her prejudicial childhood and that she had been under care for some time.
She had since begun to show some victim empathy understanding of the impact of her crimes.
Ms Loode said the teen would receive Commonwealth NDIS funding for a new style of purpose-built disability housing.
It would use materials meant for heavy use including walls and fittings to take high impact.
"They don't easily break and have sound proofings so noise issues do not impact neighbours," she said.
Ms Loode said her offending arises from her diagnosed health conditions and the teen had not shied away from what she had done.
A Youth Justice representative said the teen spoke of her concerns at the time about supervising staff, and felt that strategies to help her were not being followed.
She felt she had been kept locked in the house and only allowed out for essential care matters.
A trip by public transport on the day of the second fire left her feeling unsettled along with a staff shift changeover.
And the teen said an air conditioner was turned on despite her feeling cold.
The court heard the girl had earlier spent 44 days in detention.
Judge Horneman-Wren said reports before the court on her progress were encouraging in that she had since been engaged in "thoughtful, well-crafted programs" put together through the Department of Child Safety.
He said she was participating well in the probation order made in February to provide further support and care.
Reminding the teen that the staff were there to assist and help her, and that she should "do your best and be tolerant of them".
With her ongoing probation and supervision orders Judge Horneman-Wren decided only to admonish and reprimand her for the second arson.
No conviction was recorded.