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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

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Pupils ‘in a bad crowd’ admit roles in £19,000 Barrow depot blaze

TWO schoolboys have admitted their part in a huge fire which caused £19,000-worth of damage to a former tyre depot.

The blaze ripped through the old Hi-Q Tyres, in Salthouse Road, Barrow, on November 16. Furness Youth Court heard the Manchester-based company which owns the building is still locked in talks with the insurance company and may not receive a payout.

Two boys, aged 13 and 14, who cannot be named for legal reasons, originally denied arson and were due to stand trial at Furness Youth Court. But yesterday both pleaded guilty to an altered charge of committing arson jointly, and with other persons, on the basis they were in a group of around seven boys but did not light the firelighter which caused the blaze.

Both were sentenced to 12-month youth rehabilitation orders and, due to their parents’ financial situations, must each pay £300 compensation at £5 a week.

Mrs Sarah Rodgers, prosecuting, said four engines and 20 firefighters had to attend and the road was closed for almost three hours. Describing the impact on the owners, she said: “At the moment, they have suffered that loss of £19,000. They’ve had to find money in other ways, such as cutting costs or looking at staff cuts, so people may have to lose jobs.”

The court heard the two boys were unfortunate because they were spotted running from the scene by a police officer. They smelled of smoke and their hands were black from throwing firelighters.

Other boys were later arrested, but there was insufficient evidence to charge them. The group had found the firelighters in an old pub near Morrisons and got into the tyre depot through a broken back window.

Both boys’ solicitors said another boy had dropped a firelighter which caused the fire in a bin in the office and told the others when they left that the place was “going to go up”. Both were said to have been caught up in a bad crowd and have since learned their lesson.

Mr Andrew Gibson, defending the 13-year-old, said: “He always denied setting fire to anything. What he’s always accepted is that he was part of a group who found some firelighters and started messing around with them.” Ms Maureen Fawcett, defending the 14-year-old, said he had lit a firelighter, but stamped it out and did not enter the area where the fire started.

She added: “He’s absolutely ashamed at what he’s done and the amount of people who were put out just by some stupid act.”

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