Youth behind Florence Court fire on arson charges

summer house fire
A TEENAGER who was convicted in relation to a fire that destroyed the historic summer house at Florence Court has not been engaging with the fire service, a court has heard. 
The youth appeared at Enniskillen Magistrates Youth Court on Wednesday where he pleaded guilty to two counts of common assault, two counts of criminal damage and one count of arson relating to three separate incidents. 
The first incident happened at a children’s home in Derry on March 30 last year, after the boy was denied a travel permit from his social workers to visit Enniskillen. 
When refused the permit, the youth proceeded to smash plates and cups belonging to the home, pushed a social worker into a cupboard causing her to hurt her arm, damaged a door, window and fire alarm, and threw a bed from his room into the corridor. The total cost of damage to the Western Trust was £2,179.19p.  
The second incident also took place at the Derry children’s home, on May 11 last year, when he set a pair of fire-retardant curtains on fire. 
The third incident happened at Beechlea Children’s Home in Fermanagh on February 28 this year, when police were responded to reports of two boys “wrecking the place”, damaging a number of windows. A female resident of the home was also assaulted. 
The court was told the youth had already paid for the damage that was caused to the windows, while he had also offered to get a voucher for Erneside Shopping Centre for the injured girl. 
District Judge Nigel Broderick said the boy seemed to have anger management issues, and defence barrister Ciaran Roddy agreed the boy had “issues controlling his emotions.”
“If that doesn’t change there’s only one way he’s going,” said the judge. 
Mr Roddy said the boy had been using legal highs to deal with his problems but realised that had only led to further issues, and was now engaging very well and making good progress with a consellor. He added the youth was now also living at home again, which had helped him, and was studying for GCSEs in Maths, English and ICT. 
Describing his current circumstances as “a watershed moment” for the defendant, the barrister said the boy realised the charges against him were serious matters, wished to apologise for his behaviour, and was aware he was in breach of a previously deferred sentence. 
Judge Broderick said a report revealed the boy, who was involved in the burning down of the Florencecourt summerhouse, had not been engaging with the fire service as previously ordered in relation to the incident, and said he had “one last chance” or risked a custodial sentence. 
A social worker told the court the boy, who had a lot of upheaval in his life after the death of someone close at a young age, was motivated to turn his life around. 
Judge Broderick said if the youth didn’t address his drug use and anger management issues he risked ruining his life, warning him he faced bringing a lengthy record into the adult court when he turned 18. 
In relation to all three incidents, he imposed a six-month youth conference plan with a number of conditions, such as anger management training, and sentenced him to two consecutive community responsibility orders of 40 hours. Judge Broderick also ordered the boy to buy the girl who was assaulted a shopping voucher of £20. 

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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