Teen arsonist lands home detention

By Sandra Conchie


A Tauranga teenager who was the main offender in an arson attack on a vacant house in The Lakes subdivision, which caused $60,000 damage, has been sentenced to eight months' home detention.

Keaghan Isaac Sylvia, 17, who earlier pleaded guilty to a charge of arson and seven other unrelated charges in the Tauranga Youth Court, was also sentenced to 175 hours' community work when he appeared in Tauranga District Court yesterday.

Judge Peter Rollo said Sylvia's culpability in relation to the arson attack was higher than his co-offender Benjamin Harris, who lit the fire, because it was Sylvia's idea to start the blaze.

The pair and another associate twice burgled the Te Puna liquor store before driving to the vacant house in Kennedy Rd on August 19 last year.

Judge Rollo described it as a premeditated attack.

"One would hope that every pre-schooler in this country is taught why they should not play with matches. But your offending involved a premeditated act of wanton destruction resulting in losses of $60,000 for the owners and their insurance company, and the only benefit to you it seems was a few minutes thrill watching the ferocious fire," the judge said.

Armed with a baseball bat, Sylvia smashed council signs, the front door and several windows of the house before Harris set alight blinds in a cupboard.

Sylvia was also sentenced in relation to the burglary, assaulting a police constable, resisting arrest, sustained loss of traction and two charges of shoplifting. Sylvia is also subject to judicial monitoring for 12 months and was disqualified from driving for six months.

Harris, 18, from Welcome Bay was earlier sentenced to nine months home detention and 200 hours' community work.

Brad David O'Keefe, 18, from Greerton, who drove the getaway car, was earlier sentenced to five months' home detention and 150 hours' community work.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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