Psychiatric reports needed on teenage firestarter

First published in News

A BOY convicted of trying to start a fire at the home of a blind and deaf woman in a village near Selby had caused problems at an elderly people’s complex the same day, Sheffield Crown Court heard.

Tom Storey, prosecuting, said the fire incident had a lasting effect on the disabled woman.

Before it, she had been able to live independently dealing with day-to-day matters. But since the fire incident, she had been unable to do so.

“Her independence has been undone,” said Mr Storey.

The barrister said the teenager, then 14, was one of a group of three youths who had sworn at an elderly woman in her flat at the complex and sprayed water through a hose onto her window earlier the same day.

He later told police he had gone to the complex because he and his friends were “bored and looking for something to do”.

The court heard he had received a reprimand from police for arson six months before the two incidents on November 30, 2011.

After reading psychiatric, psychological and a probation service report, Judge Jeremy Baker QC adjourned sentencing for North Yorkshire Youth Offending Team to inquire about possible psychiatric treatment for the boy that could be included in his sentence.

“It is clear he does suffer from a mental heatlh condition,” he said.

The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was convicted of attempted arson being reckless as to whether life would be endangered by a jury at Doncaster Crown Court in September.

He pleaded guilty to criminal damage to a set of garden gnomes two days before the fire incident and to a public order offence at the elderly people’s complex.

His barrister Simon Kealey said the boy had been rejected by his mother and learned to express himself through anger.

But with a stable home and the proper school environment he could change his conduct.

“Fire raising seems to provide some relief from the stresses of everyday life,” he said.

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