Mom of Haverhill 23-Year-Old Arrested for Alleged Arson Defends Him in Court: ‘Nice Person Who Did Something Foolish’

John Sawicki appeared before Judge Patricia Dowling in Haverhill District Court on Sept. 25, 2019. (WHAV News file photograph)

Mother knows best? Not necessarily in a court of law. Haverhill High Street resident John Sawicki was arrested Tuesday and charged with allegedly setting off fireworks on his neighbor’s doorstep and during arraignment in Haverhill District Court Wednesday morning, the 23-year-old’s mother came to his defense, arguing that her son was just sick and tired of apartment living.

Sitting in the courtroom gallery as Sawicki faced Judge Patricia Dowling to answer to one count each of unlawful possession of fireworks, arson, attempted arson, disturbing the peace and defacing property, among other offenses, Michele Maguire stepped to the front of the courtroom in an effort to stand up for the man she still called her “boy.”

Speaking to Dowling, Maguire blamed her son’s upstairs neighbors for keeping him awake, telling Dowling he “hasn’t slept in months.” The judge, however, quickly saw through it, ordering Sawicki held on $1,000 cash bail until his next court appearance in October.

“He is a nice person who has done something foolish,” his mom said.

Dowling had a duty, she said, to look out for the people of Haverhill and “not send him home” given the severity of the charges he faces. “He has to get himself straightened out. At this present time, he presents a threat to the people in this community,” she said. “You don’t have to agree, because I’m the one who made the decision.”

So what happened to lead to her son’s arrest, Dowling asked Maguire? Fireworks were involved, mom confirmed, but not in the way the judge first thought. “He didn’t throw them, Your Honor, he lit them off too close to the house and did the charring,” she said.

At the time of his arrest, Assistant District Attorney Cal Skeirik said, Sawicki faced several charges out of Lowell, including alleged assault and battery, drug and burglary-related offenses.

Residents of 65 High St. were evacuated just before 5 p.m. Tuesday night after “multiple fireworks” were allegedly set off near one unit in the building, resulting in burn marks to the door, door frame and ceiling. There was also charring in the hallway, according to Haverhill Police Officer Conor Rogier. Sawicki, who was seen dropping a yellow lighter when leaving the building, was said to be uncooperative and initially refused to give police his full name during questioning. He also told police he was unaware of any fireworks-related activity in the building.

Found in possession of a Xanax pill when arrested, Sawicki has been ordered to remain drug and alcohol free while his case is being prosecuted.

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