Teen arsonist given ‘one more chance’ by judge

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A ‘DANGEROUS’ teenager who set fire to his flat twice out of boredom, causing more than £10,000 worth of damage, has been spared jail.

The 16-year-old started blazes at secure accommodation in Shiregreen, Sheffield, while serving a probation order for attempted robbery and knife possession.

Sheffield Crown Court heard the young arsonist told police he lit the fires because he was bored and ‘wasn’t bothered’ if anyone was hurt.

But Judge Alan Goldsack QC said he was prepared to give the youth ‘one more chance’ as the teenager risked becoming ‘totally institutionalised’.

Rachael Harrison, prosecuting, said the accommodation consisted of self-contained flats usually given to young people in care.

She said a member of staff stopped the boy leaving the flats at 4.20pm on December 5 last year, before noticing smoke coming from his floor.

Ms Harrison said the worker tried to tackle the blaze but then called 999.

Afterwards the flat needed a new sofa, carpets, flooring and replastering at a cost of £8,153.

Ms Harrison said the 16-year-old, who suffered from schizophrenia, had caused another fire a week earlier, burning pieces of paper and causing £2,500 of damage to a carpet.

Judge Goldsack said the boy committed the attempted robbery in December 2010, in a desperate bid to get money to buy food for his little brother and alcoholic father.

He said: “I placed you on a youth rehabilitation order because I read reports the like of which I had never read before.”

“Your mother died of a drug overdose and your father was trying to kill himself as an alcoholic.

“You and your younger brother hardly ever went to school and had to fend for yourselves.”

Judge Goldsack said psychiatrists had assessed the boy as dangerous, adding: “The explanation you gave for the arsons was, I’m afraid, probably correct - you were bored, which is frightening in itself.

“If you go to custody at this age you will very quickly become totally institutionalised.

“Who knows when, if ever, you would get out. You are going to get one more chance.”

The judge made a three-year rehabilitation order with supervision, mental health treatment and residence requirements.

The teenager admitted arson and arson recklessly endangering life.