Court rules teen's sock fire not arson

Dec. 28, 2010 at 3:00 AM

WELLINGTON, New Zealand, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- A New Zealand appellate court tossed out an arson conviction for a teenager who lit his socks on fire and wound up burning down a garage.

The High Court in Wellington overturned the earlier Youth Court ruling convicting the 14-year-old of arson for the April 14 incident in the garage of a friend's parents, The Dominion Post reported Monday.

The boy admitted he lit his socks on fire, which he said he had done several times before without incident, and when he stomped his foot to extinguish the flame it ignited a carpet soaked with gasoline from an earlier spill.

The boy and his friends attempted to extinguish the fire, but the garage burned down, police said.

"(He) was 14 years old, and although his intelligence appeared to the (Youth Court) judge to be average, average 14-year-old boys may do things without any thought of the risks involved, even when they have been told about the risks on other occasions," Justice Jill Mallon said in the High Court ruling.

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