Games centre arsonist sentenced

One of the two young girls who started a fire at Whitehorse's Canada Games Centre last summer was given the maximum amount of community service hours by Yukon Territorial Court Judge Michael Cozens on Thursday.

One of the two young girls who started a fire at Whitehorse’s Canada Games Centre last summer was given the maximum amount of community service hours by Yukon Territorial Court Judge Michael Cozens on Thursday.

The 13-year-old girl who, along with her 12-year-old friend set fire to the speed-skating mats along the back wall of the Olympic-sized skating rink, will have to complete 240 hours of community service within 12 months.

Along with those hours, she has been sentenced to two years probation, the longest allowable term. That includes a curfew for the first year and a complete ban on any communication devices – everything from a cellphone to an iPod to a computer – unless she is under direct supervision.

She is not allowed to be in contact with her accomplice, who also pleaded guilty to arson but has not yet been sentenced.

And the 13-year-old girl can’t possess any incendiary devices or go to the Canada Games Centre unless she is given permission.

In his reasons for sentencing, Cozens said he expected more from a youth who had just turned 13. Predominately, she should have alerted people as soon as the fire started and showed more remorse sooner after the incident, he said.

Instead, evidence submitted to the court, including printed text-message conversations, prove she was “celebrating” her “bad ass” actions.

She “must be held accountable,” Cozens wrote. But there is “no possible way that any sentence can even come close to compensating the community for the harm done.

“There is no question that her crime has shocked the community of Whitehorse. The shock is primarily a reflection of the extent of the damage caused and the significant loss of such a valuable community resource for so many, for so long.”

There was also the shock that two young girls committed the crime and that they tried to lay the blame on a First Nation girl, Cozens continued.

He did note the 13-year-old claimed she was not racist or prejudiced against aboriginal people, but used the story because it would have been believed. There were many First Nation girls at the centre that day taking part in the cadet program, she told the court.

Cozens included in his reasons that the cost of the damages to the centre are pegged at $5 million to $7 million. (Roxanne Stasyszyn)

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