Teen admits arson on farmhouse

By Sandra Conchie of the Bay of Plenty Times -
File  Photo / John Cowpland
File Photo / John Cowpland

A Welcome Bay teenager deliberately lit a fire in an empty farmhouse then lay on the floor and watched it burn out of control.

The farmhouse was gutted in the blaze and its owners are now seeking $60,000 in reparation.

Benjamin David Harris, 18, pleaded guilty to one charge each of arson and burglary in Tauranga District Court yesterday and was remanded on bail pending sentence on October 5.

Police said that on the evening of August 18 Harris, who had consumed alcohol and a party pill, drove from his home and parked at the rear of Te Puna Liquor Store.

After the barbwire fence was cut, and Harris gained entry to a shed, he loaded boxes of alcohol into the car and returned to his house in Welcome Bay.

Most of the booze was stored inside a caravan he was living in on the property.

After drinking some of the alcohol, Harris left his home again with the intention of stealing more alcohol but instead headed to the The Lake subdivision and parked up on Boulevard Dr.

Making his way up the hill to an unoccupied farmhouse, Harris broke in and walked into the kitchen area and lit several vertical blinds lying on the floor with a lighter. Once the fire had started Harris returned to the waiting vehicle and left the scene knowing the fire was out of control.

When spoken to by police on August 20 he admitted he was a party to the burglary and arson.

Court documents also reveal that the property is owned by The Lakes 2012, which is seeking $60,000 reparation.

Judge Louis Bidois told Harris the fact he was calling for a home detention report was not an indication of the likely sentencing outcome.

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