Woman to be sentenced for her role in fires

By Melissa Nightingale

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A young woman who played a part in lighting a fire in Rotorua that got out of control will be sentenced in August.

Bonnie Albert was with a group of other people, including a youth, on April 27 when she was "enticed" into setting a fire in some vegetation by the St Michaels rugby fields.

The group had earlier been "loitering" in the central business district, police prosecutor Sergeant Rachel Willemsen said in the Whanganui District Court on Tuesday.

The fire Albert lit "rapidly began to burn". They continued on, and the youth ran away and set a second fire, Ms Willemsen said.

However, the group caught up and managed to extinguish the fire. Albert then lit a third fire "with complete disregard for safety".

The fire "quickly began to rage out of control" and the group fled the scene. They were caught by police, and the fire had to be put out by the local fire service. Albert told police she knew it was wrong to light the fires, but she was "bored" and it was "exciting" lighting them, Ms Willemsen said.

Albert pleaded guilty to arson, but defence lawyer Stephanie Burlace said her client disputed several details.

She said Albert lit the first two fires, but not the third.

She also said Albert did not make any comments about being bored and finding it exciting to light the fires.

"That was made up by the police, was it?" Judge David Cameron asked.

He remanded Albert to August 1 for sentencing and ordered a pre-sentence report.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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