Bonfire youth sentenced

A YOUTH who threw a can of deodorant into an Anzac Day bonfire at Table Top and injured three teenagers was yesterday sentenced to a 12-month suspended control order and community service.

The Baranduda youth, 17, appeared in Albury Children’s Court for sentencing.

He had drunk six beers when he threw the can of anti-perspirant deodorant.

Sentencing on three counts of causing grievous bodily harm by a negligent act had been adjourned for updated medical reports on the injuries suffered by three victims.

One of them, Holbrook schoolgirl Molly Dowling, 17, spent three weeks in hospital after being badly burnt when the can exploded.

She subsequently had three separate operations and suffered permanent scarring to her face, neck, both arms, legs and right hand.

Magistrate Tony Murray was told yesterday Molly still wears compression bandaging for her injuries.

A youth, 17, was permanently scarred on his arm, while another, also 17, received burns to the side of his face, ear, lower leg, hand and calf.

Solicitor Tim Hemsley, for the offender, said he was 16 when the incident happened and there was no malice involved.

“It was a simple negligent act,” Mr Hemsley said.

“We accept there is permanent scarring.

“It is a matter that weighs heavily on my client’s mind.”

A girl had organised the party at her family’s semi-rural property and 80 to 100 young people attended.

It was separated into two sections, with an area around a bonfire and a music and dance spot a short distance away.

The youth had arrived about 8.30pm and had drunk six full-strength beers before about 2am the next morning when the explosion occurred, causing the injuries.

Earlier, one of his friends had thrown a can into the bonfire, causing a loud “whooshing” sound, with flames rising four to five metres.

The youth took a half-full deodorant can from the top of a fridge in the house and had it in his pocket for some time.

It was thrown into the centre of the fire and the youth, along with his group, moved away as he shouted: “Everyone move back.”

There was a loud explosion and the youth realised people had been burnt when he saw them running inside, but did not know how badly.

Four were taken to hospital and the fire brigade put out the bonfire.

The youth initially denied involvement but next day went to the police station and admitted his part.

Mr Murray said it was a difficult sentencing exercise, but he believed there was genuine remorse from the youth.

He imposed a suspended 12-month control order for Molly’s injuries and 150 hours community service work concurrently on the other two charges.