Teenage arsonist avoids jail over fire which destroyed Sheffield nursery

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A teenage arsonist who caused a fire which destroyed a Sheffield nursery has avoided jail.

Elliot Hague, aged 19, of Woodlands Avenue, Beighton, was told he must undertake 240 hours of unpaid work after his role in starting a fire which destroyed the Bizzy Bees Family Childcare Centre on School Lane on the night of November 1, 2015.

Sheffield Crown Court heard the damage totalled £500,000. Over £75,000 worth of the building's contents were destroyed and £26,000 of nursery fees had to be refunded to parents.

Brian Outhwaite, prosecuting, said Hague was 'larking about' with a group of youths who broke through a fence into the nursery playing area.

The court heard Hague and three others, set fire to plastic outdoor equipment including a toy car, which the defendant put in a bin at the side of the Bizzy Bees building.

"The defendant put the burning toy car into the wheelie bin and shut the lid. What makes this worse is this item was kindly donated to the nursery by a member of the public," Mr Outhwaite said.

Elliot Hague

Elliot Hague

"Another person then opened the lid which seems to have caused to the fire to spread to the nearby structure which caused extensive damage."

Francis Edusei, defending, told the court Hague had no previous convictions and was of 'previous good character' before this incident.

"He has a good work ethic and is more than able to carry out an unpaid work requirement in the community."

Judge Recorder Singh said he was 'aware of criticism' that more people had not been charged with these offences.

He said: "Many will come to the conclusion that this is a extremely lenient sentence. Those who read the reports are not in the possession of the information that I have.

"This usually would carry a significant sentence but it could be argued you had a less significant role than the others you were with.

"This had a devastating impact on others in the community and caused serious inconvenience to the families of the 190 children who attended the nursery.

"I am aware there is criticism there are not others facing these allegations with you."

Hague pleaded guilty on the first day of his scheduled trial on November 2.

He was ordered to pay costs and his unpaid work requirement must be completed in 24 months.

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