Parents must pay £1,000 of arson bill

THE parents of a 12-year-old boy who committed arson at a care home must pay £1,000 towards the £6,000 clean-up bill.

A number of residents, some in wheelchairs, had to be evacuated from a fire at Peterlee Care Home.

A youth, who cannot be named because of his age, admitted arson being reckless as to whether property was destroyed or damaged.

Prosecuting Janet Coxon told Peterlee Magistrates’ Court the blaze caused £6,000 of damage by destroying an armchair in the foyer of the Westcott Road-based home and smoke damage to walls.

She said a worker at the nearby Huntercombe House care home was alerted by the boy, who offered to call 999 on his mobile.

A statement from Denise Merritt, a Peterlee Care Home senior worker, said: “The fire alarm sounded and I became aware of a small fire in the porch area, as a result of which we had cause to arrange for some of the residents to be evacuated.”

In police interview, the boy said he had been sat on a chair and lit some threads on a cushion.

He put the flame out but re-lit it and the cushion began to burn.

Ms Coxon said: “He said he had seen somebody in a wheelchair and saw the occupants were elderly and disabled and he was remorseful and regretted his actions.”

Alongside the arson, from November 28, last year, the boy also admitted a burglary at a South Hetton community centre on September 18 and stealing cigarettes on October 27.

Neil Bennett, mitigating, said the boy’s family were already engaged in community support and added: “He understands that doing a certain thing is wrong to do.

“It’s the consequence of that he has to think about.”

Chairman of the magistrates’ bench William Brown sentenced the boy to an 18-month youth rehabilitation order with supervision and an activity requirement, with £1,000 compensation to pay.