Why rural fire fighter made ‘stupid’ decision to start blaze
AN 18-year-old volunteer rural fire fighter deliberately lit two grassfires because he was "bored".
Harley Ian Leonard Smith faced Nanango Magistrates Court charged with deliberately lighting two fires on Nanango Brooklands Rd at approximately 10.30pm.
Police prosecutor Pepe Gangemi said one fire was approximately 30 metres by 30 metres wide and the second fire was approximately 10 metres by 8 metres wide, with the fires 150 metres apart from one another.
A skip at a Wilson Dr residence was also deliberately lit, destroying household items.
Sgt Gangemi said Smith reeked of alcohol and told police he was at home with his brother when the fires were lit before admitting to lighting them himself.
Magistrate Lousia Pink labelled the behaviour as "disturbing".
"Everyone knows that in Queensland and broader areas in Australia there is significant and severe drought … when fires occur they have the potential to cause devastating affects to communities - not only to properties but to lives," she said.
Defence lawyer Chris Campbell said Smith had developed a problem with alcohol and first started drinking at the age 13, due to his difficult upbringing.
Campbell said Smith was abandoned by his mother who said to him: "I hate you, I never wanted you. You are not like the other kids, you are a bad kid."
Smith faced court with a limited criminal history, however breached a good behaviour order by committing the offences one month after he was given the order.
Ms Pink said it was significant that Smith admitted to police that he lit the fires and also took into account his limited history and youth.
"The courts accept young people make stupid decisions due to immaturity," she said.
He was sentenced to a six month probation order on two charges of lighting an unauthorised fire, to assist in his rehabilitation and providing support.
Smith was ordered to complete 40 hours of community service for wilful damage.
He was ordered to pay $428.85 restitution to the Kingaroy Queensland Fire and Emergency Service command who responded to and contained the fires.
Smith was required to pay $300 for breaching his good behaviour order.
No conviction was recorded to give him the opportunity to "get his life on track and build a life as a constructive member of the community".