Teen finally admits role in All Saints Church blaze

| December 16, 2009

One of the Palmerston North teens involved in the 2007 All Saints Church arson has finally admitted his part in the fire that destroyed the historic building.

Lachlan William Holdem, 19, appeared in the Palmerston North District Court yesterday facing charges of burglary and arson.

Holdem, who was 17 at the time of the fire, pleaded guilty to an amended summary of facts which states he was a party to the arson, not an instigator.

On October 16, 2007, Holdem and a flatmate talked about stealing a microwave for their flat while standing in Linton St about 11.35pm.

Two other teenage men became embroiled in the crime, with one standing lookout as three others climbed over the fence into the grounds of All Saints Church.

The trio broke into the Friendship Centre at the rear of the Church St property, took a microwave and fled to Holdem's flat about 500m away.

During the following four hours, the teens returned on a number of occasions taking clothing, bedding, and electrical appliances, the court heard.

About 4.30am three of the teens became worried about forensic evidence linking them to the burglary.

They found a bottle of methylated spirits and used it to start a fire.

While Holdem did not light the fire, he did not try to stop his friends lighting the match.

Firefighters were alerted to the blaze at 4.40am but the 130-year-old, two-storey timber building could not be saved.

After a jury of 12 was selected yesterday morning, Crown prosecutor Evan McCaughan and defence lawyer Paul Surridge made amendments to the summary of facts.

Before being dismissed, the jury heard Holdem admitting his part in the arson.

Judge Les Atkins convicted Holdem and remanded him on bail until sentencing on February 2.

A probation report canvassing home detention and reparation was ordered by Judge Atkins.

Three teens were charged with arson. Two were dealt with in the Youth Court.

The fourth co-offender, Matthew James Durham, who was 19 at the time, was only charged with burglary as he was not present when the fire was lit.



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Category: Church Security

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