Jail for teen who caused major South Shore fire

South Brighton-101The Fire Service will get nothing back from 18-year-old Jayvan James Simms for the $40,240 it spent putting out the sand dunes fire he caused at South Shore.

The fire on November 30 involved 60 fire-fighters and took three hours to get under control. It burnt vegetation, caused evacuation of houses nearby, and caused smoke damage.

Christchurch District Court Judge Stephen O’Driscoll jailed Simms for two years one month on a long list of charges he had admitted including the arson, but he said there was no prospect of the teenager being able to pay reparation so he made no order.

“You are clearly not able to provide reparation and the victims will have to bear the cost of the loss or damage you have caused,” said the judge.

There was also a bill of $40,000 before the court from the Christchurch City Council for the damage to the vegetation, but Crown prosecutor Emma Henderson said it was only to show the scale of the damage. The vegetation had grown back and no payment was expected.

Simms admitted he had “recklessly” caused the fire by throwing away a lighted cigarette.

He also admitted taking part in the burglary of a pre-school where a laptop computer was stolen, as well as unlawfully taking cars, interfering with them, stealing from them, possessing tools for taking them, and shoplifting.

There were also 41 similar charges that Judge O’Driscoll had ordered transferred from the Youth Court jurisdiction to be dealt with at the same District Court sentencing. Simms has now “graduated” to the adult jurisdiction after his 17th birthday.

Defence counsel Ruth Buddicom said he was still a vulnerable young man, whose offending history had now caught up with him. She said: “He has displayed an admirable degree of realism and acceptance of responsibility.”

Judge O’Driscoll said Simms had been using cannabis since the age of 12 or 13. He had not engaged in rehabilitation that was ordered to deal with alcohol and drug issues, and there was a suggestion in the pre-sentence reports that he had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder that had not been diagnosed or medicated in the past.

“My impression of you is that you are young, immature, naïve, and self-centred,” the judge told Simms. “You live for the moment and give little or no thought for the consequences of your actions on either yourself or on others you offend against.”

He now had a shocking and appalling list of offences at the age of only 18. The judge said he hoped that for Simms’ sake, and the for the community, he would do whatever programmes he could in prison and after his release to address the issues that led to his offending.

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