Children face court over Port Stephens bushfires

Children face court over Port Stephens bushfires

10 June 2014

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Australia — ONE child has been discharged under mental health legislation while another will be sentenced next month for lighting a bushfire that burnt 5000 hectares of land and forced Newcastle Airport to close.

One of the offenders, 15, recently had his charges dismissed under mental health legislation after he admitted to his involvement in the October 13 incident.

The discharge included conditions that he will take his medication and consult with a forensic psychologist.

An 11-year-old was set to face a hearing in Broadmeadow Children’s Court on Tuesday, but previously pleaded guilty to two counts of starting fires and will be sentenced next month.

The boys lit a mattress with a cigarette lighter at a place known as the Bullet Track at Raymond Terrace and another at a place known as the Blue Lagoon at Heatherbrae when bushfires were raging across various parts of NSW.

The Raymond Terrace fire was quickly extinguished after one of the boys rang triple-0, but the Heatherbrae fire took hold and spread over several days.

The fire forced the closure of Newcastle Airport and the Pacific Highway as it travelled east through Medowie, Williamtown and Campvale.

It destroyed sheds and other structures and threatened numerous homes while temperatures reached 35 degrees and wind gusts topped 100km/h.

The boys used sticks and leaves to start the Blue Lagoon fire.

Four other youths were charged at the same time with lighting fires at Glenrock State Conservation Area and Banglay Reserve near Windale.

They have also been dealt with by the courts.

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