Yukon North Of Ordinary

News archive for February 9, 2012

Teenager’s crime ‘shocked the community’

One of the two girls who have admitted responsibility for last year’s multimillion-dollar fire at the Canada Games Centre has been sentenced to two years’ probation.

By Ashley Joannou on February 9, 2012 at 4:07 pm

One of the two girls who have admitted responsibility for last year’s multimillion-dollar fire at the Canada Games Centre has been sentenced to two years’ probation.

The 13-year-old, who cannot be identified because of her age, was given the maximum length of probation allowed under Canada’s Youth Criminal Justice Act, when she appeared in court this morning.

Territorial court Judge Michael Cozens ruled the teen is also required to preform 240 community work service hours in the first year— also the maximum number of hours allowed under the law.

She is not allowed to attend the Canada Games Centre without permission and cannot possess incendiary devices, such as a lighter.

The judge also banned the teen from having a phone, iPod or any device connected to the Internet or used for communication, without an approved adult present.

A curfew for the first year was also imposed.

The teen and a 12-year-old girl both pleaded guilty to setting the fire on June 24, 2011.

The city’s director of administrative services, Rob Fendrick, said early this afternoon the total cost of the damage is estimated at $6.8 million, all of which is covered by insurance.

Parts of the centre were closed for months, while the damage was repaired.

A sentencing hearing for the second girl has yet to scheduled.

The pair have admitted to being at the centre’s ATCO arena, along with an 11-year-old boy, when the trio pulled down some of the speed skating mats to build forts.

The two girls took lighters they had and together lit one of the mat’s handles on fire.

The boy put that fire out with his hand, the judge said.

The two girls then lit the handles of a second mat on fire and the trio ran from the area, passing three fire alarms and numerous adults without alerting anyone.

While running away, the teen told the boy that she would punch him if he told anyone what they had done, the court heard.

She took pictures of the fire with her cell phone and exchanged text messages with friends talking about the blaze.

When initially interviewed by the RCMP, the teen told police she had seen a First Nations girl come out of one of the change rooms at the time of the fire.

After police obtained surveillance videos of the incident, the teen admitted to having started the blaze.

She later stated that the pair decided to blame an aboriginal girl because there were a large number of First Nations girls at the CGC for a cadet program, and they thought this story would be believable.

The girl said she is not prejudice against First Nations people, the judge said.

Crown prosecutors had been seeking house arrest for the girl.

In his decision, Cozens said that while house arrest was a possibility in this case, under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, all available sanctions other than custody need to be considered.

“While her actions both in starting the fire and the immediate aftermath, are sufficiently blameworthy to take her beyond the least culpable youthful offender, I find that they are not such that she should be viewed as being among the worst, or frankly, even close to the worst, youthful non-violent offender,” he said.

The girl, who has no previous criminal record, has complied with all the conditions she has been under since her arrest and is actively involved in positive activities both inside and outside school, Cozens said.

Sentencing under the Youth Criminal Justice Act is “guided by principles focused on holding youth accountable for their actions through meaningful consequences, while attempting to provide the guidance and support necessary to assist youth in redirecting their lives towards positive and socially acceptable behaviour,” the judge said.

Despite some indication that she initially enjoyed the notoriety she received from starting the fire, Cozens said he accepts that she is sorry for what she has done.

The judge acknowledged that this crime “shocked the community.”

“(She) must be held accountable for the crimes she has committed. I recognize that there is no possible way that any sentence can even come close to compensating the community for the harm (she) has caused,” Cozens said.

“I cannot, however, without violating the purpose and principles of sentencing, attempt to compensate the community or give voice to the community anger and frustration by imposing a denunciatory or punitive sentence on (her).”

CommentsAdd a comment

Unemployed

Feb 9, 2012 at 7:06 pm

$6,800,000 divided by 240 hrs equals $28,333.34 per hour.

Decent hourly wage.

Dan Nickason

Feb 10, 2012 at 8:28 am

This was a real blow to Whitehorse that will be in the history books.  I hope both teens do something to help Whitehorse when they become adults.  They got off very lightly.  Recently in Britain there were 5 youths, 4 under 17 who were robbing stores.  They were all caught, their names and pictures published and they all received jail time not a slap on the wrist.  For their own safety most of the public would like to see pictures of offenders no matter what age they are.

DISTURBED

Feb 13, 2012 at 10:30 am

What good is having a juvenile detention jail, if the court is not going to utilize it? She should have a little taste of being in jail, and at the same time get counseling for her actions. She took praise in what she did, once she got caught then remorse…tsk tsk pathetic!

1234

Feb 14, 2012 at 8:41 pm

6.8 million… probably more than she will make in her entire life

Yukon Hootch

Feb 15, 2012 at 12:33 pm

I too agree – what is the point of having youth detention centres if they are not going to be used?  When are they even used?  When homicides occur?  Given the circumstances, there very likely could have been deaths at CWG Centre that day – the girls did light the building on fire during business hours after all.  Interestingly enough they were smart enough to come up with a story that a first nations female started the blaze because they thought that would be believable.  How can you say they are smart enough to cover their tracks but too immature to know that it is dangerous and potentially lethal to piro-out?  Correct me if I am wrong but didn’t they only come clean when the video surveillance was shown?  They put so many good people in danger that day in a place that is supposed to be a SAFE environment for all ages.

Denise G

Feb 15, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Once again a juvenile gets away with it because this slap on the wrist is in no way adequate punishment for the crime of arson.  A custodial sentence should have been imposed.  This was a serious crime and only by pure luck one that did not result in injury or death.

This crime affected all the residents of Whitehorse.  Not only because of the loss of the centre for so many months but because of the cost.  Oh sure - insurance is going to pay for the repairs but who is going to pay for the massive increase in the cost for insurance for the city?  The insurance company is not going to just shrug off this payout because it was a minor who set the fire. They will recoup what they can by increasing premiums and we the tax payers will be paying for what this girl and her co-defendant did.

we all lose

Feb 16, 2012 at 11:27 am

CoW’s insurance premiums might not be the only to increase. Many businesses and individuals might also see a rise in premiums due to a significant spike in losses caused by local crime.

As much as I agree with the majority of comments posted here regarding delinquents, I hope the centre has looked into purchasing replacement mats that are less flammable as well as reasonably ensuring better security of unsupervised areas.

Day by Day

Feb 17, 2012 at 11:54 am

There are lots of parents who dump tweens and teens off at CWGC by themselves unsupervised, to participate in healthy activities.  Perhaps this practice should be looked at too.  Staff can’t be everywhere all the time.  Perhaps adult/parent supervision should required for kids under a designated age (16, perhaps?).

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