HALIFAX — A Nova Scotia judge has denied bail to a teenager who locked her adoptive family in their rooms and attempted to burn down the house.
The provincial Court of Appeal decision said the "very troubled" girl had decided to kill her family.
She spread an accelerant outside the locked doors of their bedrooms and along a possible escape route before setting a paper towel on fire and throwing it on the accelerant as they slept in May 2017, it said.
"She created an 'effigy' of herself which she left in her bed, hoping it too would burn and distract the authorities," Justice David Farrar said in a decision released Thursday.
She then fled the house with her cat.
Fortunately, the "disturbing" plan did not work, as nobody was injured and the house survived. She pleaded guilty to attempted arson in October 2017.
Farrar said the girl has had a difficult history.
A psychologist at the Nova Scotia Youth Centre in Waterville told the appeal court that the teenager "suffers from complex trauma issues which require lengthy ongoing treatment."
The decision said she endured "profound trauma" at the hands of her biological parents and was introduced to prostitution by an older male at 12 or 13.
The psychologist added that the girl, who has a history of drug abuse, engages in self-harming behaviours as a coping strategy and had used improvised items to scratch and cut herself at the youth centre.
The girl denied setting the fire, saying that someone named "Dylan" had done it and that she took the blame for him.
I was left with the impression that she was attempting to lessen her involvement in the offence in an attempt to downplay the seriousness of it.Justice David Farrar
"There was no ground of appeal advanced against conviction, no request to introduce fresh evidence and no suggestion that she wished to resile from her guilty plea. Yet, she now denies having committed the offence," read the decision.
"I was left with the impression that she was attempting to lessen her involvement in the offence in an attempt to downplay the seriousness of it."
The girl had also said that she "hates" her parents.
During a cross-examination, her proposed surety and guardian suggested that the teenager was "stuck in a rut and made stupid decisions," blaming the girl's friends for her drug use and adding that she believed the teenager's assertion that "Dylan" had committed the offence.
Sentenced to 12 months in custody
"In cross-examination it became clear to me that (the proposed surety and guardian) had very little insight into the seriousness of (the girl's) condition or the treatment she requires," the judge said in the decision.
The girl, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, was sentenced to 12 months in custody and six months of community service.
She sought bail after launching an appeal, but Farrar said "a reasonable person would conclude (her) detention is necessary in the public interest."
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