Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

BOY, 10 SET HIS HOUSE ON FIRE; Blaze Could Have Killed Family - Court: No More Fires

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

BOY, 10 SET HIS HOUSE ON FIRE; Blaze Could Have Killed Family - Court: No More Fires

Article excerpt

Byline: GARETH LIGHTFOOT

A BOY who once held an "obsession with fire" could have killed his family after he set his bedroom ablaze, a court heard.

"No more fires," the schoolboy was told by the region's most senior judge who gave him a three-year supervision order at Teesside Crown Court.

The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was 10 when he set fire to his Teesside family home and then calmly walked away. If his mother and siblings had not been rescued by passers-by and firefighters, the fire could have caused "multiple fatalities", the court was told. The boy, now aged 11, sat in his school uniformyesterday alongside a carer as he awaited his sentence for reckless arson. Judge Peter Fox QC said there was "no question" of locking the boy up. He was told how the youngster was nowdoing well in voluntary care with structure and activities.

Prosecutor Sarah Mallett said the boy's behaviour became more difficult and hismumwas concerned about his "unhealthy obsession with fire". Two weeks before the serious fire last year, he started a small fire in his bedroom doorway because he was "bored". The fire brigade came and fitted smoke alarms - which might later have saved the family's lives - but did not get to speak to the boy. The day before the fire, he got into trouble for fighting, verbally abused his mum and was made to walk home. Angry, he said: "You'll regret it." Before he went to bed that night he remarked: "You'll live to regret making me walk." The mother awoke to hear the smoke alarm, her son's voice saying "There's a fire", and thick black smoke filling the house.

She held her children, screamed, shouted and broke window locks open before the blackened family were rescued from the burning building. The youngest child was dropped from the window and caught by a passer-by. The mum and other children were rescued by firefighters. The mother believed her son, who had started the blaze, was still trapped inside. …

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