Boy, 12, admits care home arson

A 12-YEAR-OLD boy has admitted committing arson at a care home.

Pensioners had to be evacuated from Peterlee Care Home, in Westcott Road, following a fire, as previously reported by the Mail.

A schoolboy appeared before magistrates in Peterlee and pleaded guilty to arson in connection with the incident, which saw an armchair being set alight.

The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted arson on November 28 last year, being reckless as to whether the property would be destroyed or damaged.

Prosecutor Heather Wilkinson said: “The boy had been in the porch area of the building.

“There was a chair and the boy appears to have been playing with a lighter, setting fire to threads on the chair.

“He tried putting the first one out and so on, but it got out of hand.”

Ms Wilkinson said the boy went across to another care home and raised the alarm and asked if they could phone the police and help the residents.

She added that residents were evacuated without any harm, but there was damage to the porch area and chair.

The boy also admitted a burglary at a community centre in South Hetton, where a charity box and keys were taken, on September 18 last year, and stealing four packets of cigarettes from a shop on October 27.

Neil Bennett, mitigating, said the boy was subject to a referral order and was also on bail for an alleged burglary at Peterlee Leisure Centre.

He asked for the case to be adjourned so officials from a youth offending panel could assess him further.

He added: “A referral has been made to the child adolescent mental health services and to a forensic psychiatrist and social services are involved with the family.”

Mr Bennett added that the boy could be suffering from attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD).

District Judge Christina Harrison adjourned sentencing until February 2 and extended his bail, which includes an 8pm-7am curfew.