Bradford arsonist, 11, caused £1m in damage to school

The fire at the school in Bradford caused �1m in damage.
The fire at the school in Bradford caused �1m in damage.
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An 11-year-old boy who started a fire which caused more than £1 million worth of damage to a Bradford primary school has been made the subject of a three-year youth rehabilitation order.

Staff and hundreds of pupils at St Cuthbert and The First Martyrs on Scotchman Road, Manningham, had to be evacuated from the premises in May after the boy used a match to set fire to paper in a storeroom.

Fire crews from across Bradford were called out to deal with the mid-afternoon blaze which destroyed three classrooms and caused water damage to a fourth.

Bradford Crown Court heard yesterday that some pupils lost all their school work in the blaze and some of the children had suffered nightmares after the incident.

Prosecutor Heather Gilmore said children had to be taught in temporary classrooms while repairs were carried out and end of year celebrations had to be cancelled.

Some pupils had to sit their SATs exams the day after the fire in a church hall.

Mrs Gilmore said parents and teachers had also been affected by the fire and the cost of the blaze was put at £1,070,000.

The boy, who cannot be identified because of his age, admitted a charge of arson being reckless as to whether life would be endangered at an earlier hearing.

He sat alongside his parents as Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC told him:”You have cost others over £1 million and more than that you have caused disruption, distress and trauma that are incalculable.”

After reading extensive reports about the boy from the Youth Offending Team, a psychiatrist and a psychologist, Judge Durham Hall accepted that the boy hadn’t recognised the risk of what he was doing when he set fire to the paper.

Judge Durham Hall described the school as “inclusive, loving and caring” but said the boy had wanted to “lash out”.

“I don’t think you realised by using the match you found to set fire to some paper that this would happen, but it did,” the judge told the boy.

The refurbishments at the school are expected to be completed by next month.

Daniel Copley, Executive Headteacher at St Cuthbert and the First Martyrs Catholic Primary School, said: “Cases like this are very difficult and we respect the court’s decision.

“The whole school community has shown great resilience with staff and pupils working together to move on from this difficult event.

“We’re back up and running and have had an excellent start to the new school year and we’re looking forward to moving back into our newly refurbished classrooms in November.”

A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “This should serve as a warning to others that arson is a serious matter and that the police and the courts will take appropriate action against those involved.”