He did $28,000 damage but compo bill just $600

A SPRINGDALE Heights youth who set fire to a taxi after stealing it was yesterday sentenced to a 15-month control order with a minimum term of eight months.

Magistrate Tony Murray was told the taxi owner was seeking $28,000 compensation for her station wagon, which was destroyed.

“I am bound by the statutory limit of $1000 (for children’s court matters),” Mr Murray said as he ordered the youth to pay $600 compensation.

“I must take into account his capacity to pay, which is very limited.”

The youth, 17, appeared for sentencing in Albury Children’s Court on charges of malicious damage by fire exceeding $15,000, car theft and never having held a driver’s licence.

He was convicted and fined $400 on the driving offence and disqualified for a month.

Concurrent control orders to be served at the Riverina Juvenile Justice Centre at Wagga were imposed on the other two charges and backdated to when he went into custody.

The minimum term on his control order will expire in June.

The youth was accompanied by two others when they got the taxi about 12.55am on October 11 from Eastern Circuit to Kaitlers Road, near the Garoogong Road intersection.

The three of them jumped out and ran off in different directions.

The driver gave chase but fell over.

He walked to the edge of the road, turned to see the taxi facing him about 15 metres away and it accelerated past him.

The youth drove to Murphy Street about 300 metres away — near his home — and stole cash and other property from the vehicle.

A GPS tracking system in the taxi showed the route, time and distance travelled.

It stopped in Murphy Street at 1.14am and the car was reported on fire at 1.21am.

When later questioned by police, the youth admitted using a lighter to start a fire with papers in the taxi.

A crime scene warrant was granted to police and executed at 7.30am at the youth’s home.

Officers found $39.40 in coins in a box in the kitchen and $4.35 on the floor under the table.

Police spoke to the youth in the presence of his mother and he denied any involvement in the taxi theft or fire.

But later he made admissions after attending the police station, where he was arrested and interviewed.

Solicitor Rob Hussey said the youth had taken a cocktail of cannabis and alcohol before committing the offences.

“It is bizarre behaviour,” Mr Hussey said.

“The young person informs me that he was heavily intoxicated.”

Mr Hussey suggested to Mr Murray that the damage would be covered by insurance.

But the magistrate replied that that was something he was unable to take into account on sentencing.