PORTLAND, Maine -- A former call firefighter in Westbrook with a history of psychological problems has been sentenced to four years in prison following his guilty plea to four counts of arson.
Under a sentencing agreement, Phillip Caron, 21, will receive counseling and be placed on probation for 12 years following his release. If he violates his probation conditions, he could face up to 12 more years behind bars.
Caron admitted Friday to setting fire last year to the garage of a home in Portland, a barn and a farmhouse in Gorham, a construction site in Westbrook, and the Sweetser Home in Saco, where he used to live.
No one was injured in the fires, which caused $1 million to $1.5 million in damage.
In a written statement, Kim and Gary Caron cited their son's mental health struggle and said they worked for years with various treatment providers to try to help him.
''Nonetheless, as parents, we recognize that Phil must be held responsible for his actions . . . We maintain hope that upon his release, he will be able to get the treatment he needs," the couple said.
Beginning at age 9, Caron engaged in destructive behavior, including fire-starting, and had gotten into trouble for burglary and vandalism, said his lawyer, Jon Gale.
But Caron didn't start the fires to hurt anyone, seek revenge, or make money, Gale said, and Caron has wanted to be able to control his behavior.
''Phil Caron cannot tell you what motivated him to set these fires," Gale said.
Caron's case and his background raised questions as to how he could be hired as a call firefighter.
His father is deputy chief in charge of call firefighters in the Westbrook Fire Department.
It is not clear whether Gary Caron told anyone else at the department or in City Hall about his son's background.
Kim and Gary Caron said in their statement that their support for their son ''has never meant hiding Phillip's past from anyone."
''We have always acknowledged Phil's problems, and we fully disclosed Phil's troubled past to his employer before he began working as a call fireman," the statement said.
Fire Chief Gary Littlefield said that he interviewed and hired Phillip Caron and that no one told him at the time that he had set fires.
''I knew he had [psychological problems], but not as far as fire goes. I had absolutely no inkling," he said.