Boy, 17, helped burn car for 88-year-old woman

A TEENAGE boy from Hervey Bay has admitted to helping set a car on fire for an 88-year-old woman, after she promised him $2500 to burn the $20,000 vehicle.

Nathan James Johnson, 17, appeared in Maryborough District Court on Friday, and pleaded guilty to burglary, arson and endangering a building with fire.

Crown prosecutor Gavin Webber told the court Mavis Lillian Brownswell, 88 at the time, offered to pay Johnson to burn a car she had bought as a gift for a neighbour.

"The complainant, Karen Smith, lived in Caddy Ave in Urraween with her partner and six children aged between 18 months and 11 years old. They had lived there for some time," Mr Webber said.

"Ms Brownswell wanted Ms Smith to become her carer, and bought her a $20,000 car as a gift," he said.

Mr Webber said Ms Smith felt obliged to become the woman's carer after that, but the relationship deteriorated over the next few months.

Johnson had known Ms Brownswell after mowing her lawn for some time, and in mid-November in 2015, she offered to pay him to torch the car.

"She said 'I want you to destroy the bloody thing because I can't get it back'," Mr Webber said.

"Mr Johnson enlisted the help of Matthew Eric Garner (18), the other accused, who accepted the money."

The court was told that between 4am and 4.30am of November 25, 2015, the two teenagers broke into the Smiths' garage and set the car on fire.

The family were asleep, and were woken by neighbours who knocked on their window.

A person was taken to hospital with smoke inhalation, and more than $1700 worth of damage was done to the garage.

Judge Paul Smith senten- ced Johnson, who was on bail for assault, to two years jail on probation and 120 hours of community service.

Garner and Brownswell are expected to stand trial in November this year.


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