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May 25, 2011

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Teenage arsonist's revenge on aunts

A 17-YEAR-OLD boy who started four fires to take revenge on his aunts for beating him was sentenced to one year in prison yesterday.

Judges of the Putuo District People's Court learned that the boy, identified as Dong, had psychological problems and appointed mental health experts to offer counseling in a bid to stop him reoffending.

The court heard Dong had a difficult life. His parents divorced when he was seven years old and he traveled with his father to Shanghai where they made a living picking through garbage.

When Dong was 14, his father fell from his moped after suffering an epileptic attack and died.

Dong returned to his hometown in Jiangsu Province to live with his 80-year-old grandmother but got into trouble, leading to a 10-month prison sentence.

His grandmother asked three aunts, who lived in Shanghai, to take care of him. However, Dong was frequently scolded and beaten by his aunts over his behavior.

Seeking revenge, Dong decided to start fires, reckoning once it was discovered he was responsible, residents would demand compensation from his aunts, the court heard.

He went to a nearby village in Loutang Town, Jiading District, on November 3, 2010, and set fire to straw and screen windows. Dong shouted a warning, then stood by as residents tackled the flames.

When he started three other fires the same week, villagers became suspicious and alerted police. Dong admitted to being the arsonist.

"He became bad-tempered after his father died and sometimes we had to beat him," an aunt told the court.

The Shanghai Mental Health Center said Dong had psychological problems. Judges appointed experts to offer the teenager treatment.


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