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Fourth of school fire criminals sent to jail

TRAIL OF DESTRUCTION: This mobile dental van was torched in a Gatton crime spree.
TRAIL OF DESTRUCTION: This mobile dental van was torched in a Gatton crime spree. FILE

A TEENAGER has been jailed for his part in the arson of a Gatton State School block and dental van.

Zachary Dean Clark, 19, was found guilty by a jury of two counts of arson and two counts of wilful damage. He pleaded guilty to a third charge of wilful damage and two of burglary.

Clark was sentenced to three years jail. He will be released on parole on June 26 next year.

On October 30, 2012, Clark was drinking with three other men in Gatton: BJ Alan Denton, Corey Andrew McCutcheon and Christopher Bernard Walker.

Drunk, and high on drugs, they were kicked out of Gatton McDonald's. Clark pointed out the car of the assistant manager, who had kicked them out, and Walker and McCutcheon smashed the vehicle.

They fled the carpark and jumped the school fence where Clark and McCutcheon broke into a classroom, stealing a number of laptops.

Clark hid the computers in a tree on the school oval. When he returned, the others were trying to break into a dental van.

After the four rummaged through it, stealing equipment, McCutcheon said they'd left too much DNA inside and suggested they burn the van down.

He testified only Denton had been against starting the fire and the other three "carried" him into it.

McCutcheon started a fire while Walker brought paper from a nearby bin. Outside Denton and Clark played with a fire extinguisher. While it was suggested to the jury Clark and Denton were trying to put the fire out with the extinguisher, prosecutor Matthew Le Grand said they were spraying it with "no purpose".

The fire spread from the van and burnt the school block it was next to.

The four ended up outside the Gatton fire station where they sat and laughed at what they'd done.

Walker pulled out a number of scissors and began throwing them at a volunteer firefighter's car. When he kept missing, the others laughed at him until he got up and stabbed and scratched the vehicle.

The other three have already been sentenced, with only Denton not serving time behind bars.

Topics:  arson



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