Teen gets prison for $3m arson

Last updated 09:29 15/02/2014

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An Invercargill teenager convicted of a $3.2 million arson attack at James Hargest College has been sent to jail for more than three years, but the school principal says the sentence gives him no satisfaction.

Duncan Robert Roderick McRae, 19, appeared before Judge Michael Turner for sentence yesterday in the Invercargill District Court after he admitted two charges of arson and two of burglary on October 7, 2012, and January 3, 2013.

Judge Turner sentenced McRae, who was 18 at the time of the offending, to three years and six months' jail.

In May last year, his co- offender, Campbell Leaf, was sentenced to three years and four months' jail.

Judge Turner said McRae and Leaf had unlawfully entered the school twice and set items on fire.

In October, 2012, the pair broke into the school by climbing a six- foot fence then removed tools, set two fires causing $500 damage and walked away leaving the fires burning. The fires burnt out, he said.

Three months later, McRae and Leaf broke into the school after drinking alcohol and smoking legal highs, Judge Turner said.

The pair gathered cardboard, timber and wooden off-cuts and placed them on the floor in a classroom in the school's C block. They set the 1m-high pile on fire and made no effort to put it out, Judge Turner said.

The pair then walked home, smoked more legal highs and went to bed, he said.

The fire caused about $3.2m of damage, he said.

After the sentencing, James Hargest College principal Andy Wood said he doubted any sentence would have made him feel better about the situation, given the huge disruption and cost the crime had on the school.

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- The Press

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