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Boy sentenced for setting classmate's hair on fire

WINNIPEG - A Winnipeg teenager has been sentenced to 18 months of supervised probation for trying to set a Jewish classmate’s hair on fire in a high school hallway.

The 15-year-old girl’s hair was singed, but she was not seriously injured.

But she said in her victim impact statement that the attack made her fearful and guarded at school and led her to see a therapist.

Court hear the boy, who was also 15 at the time of the November 2011 attack, made anti-Semitic comments during the assault.

But the Crown said it did not appear anti-Semitism motivated the youth and he used the words because he was a — quote — “jerk and a bully.”

The defence argued the youth never meant to light the girl’s hair on fire.

The teen's lawyer said his client grabbed the girl, lit the lighter and made the comments, but her hair caught fire when she pulled away.

Court was told the teen considered the girl to be his friend and he texted her that day to apologize.

The defence also said the comments were more a way of interacting at the school and the accused was not the only one who addressed the girl that way.

Judge Rob Finlayson said the comment was totally vulgar and inappropriate, but he was satisfied it was not racially motivated. He said he believed the assault was isolated, impulsive and unplanned and that the school culture the defence spoke of was “unhealthy and dark and there’s no place for it in society."

Besides being under intense supervision during his probation, the teen is to receive counselling, attend school regularly, complete 75 hours of community service and avoid contact with the victim, except to write an apology letter.

The teen cannot be named under provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act. He pleaded guilty earlier this year to assault with a weapon.

(CJOB, The Canadian Press)

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