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Teenager who set fire to Gabriel Wishart, ten, in park apologises to his victim
A TEENAGER who set fire to a ten-year-old boy in a York park says he will live with his actions for the rest of his life.
The 13-year-old, who attacked Gabriel Wishart as he played in the park, has written to the youngster to apologise, as instructed by police.
Gabriel, of Bede Avenue, Clifton, was sprayed with an aerosol can by the 13-year-old and set alight as he played in Ashton Park last month, but put the flames out by dropping to the ground and rolling in snow.
The incident, which hit the national headlines after being reported in The Press, was dealt with by a police order in agreement with Gabriel’s family, requiring the teenager to write a letter of apology and make amends.
In the letter, the teenager, who has not been named, wrote: “I’m very sorry for what I did. I hope you will be able to forgive me in time to come. It was a stupid thing to do and I know I have upsetpeople – ie you, your family and my family too. I’m deeply sorry. I now know I will never do anything like this again. I would not like it if it had happened to anyone in my family.
“I know I have to live with what I have done for the rest of my life and I am deeply, deeply sorry.”
Gabriel’s mother, Pamela Wishart, said her son, a pupil at Burton Green Primary School, had not wanted the case to go through a court process and had wanted to draw a line under the matter.
But she questioned the older boy’s sincerity. She said: “Does he really mean it? The words seem like the right thing to say, nobody really knows whether he is sorry for what he has done or what has happened since.
“I just hope he has learned. I’m hoping for his own sake it was a one-off thing.
“I would have liked something a bit more than this. It was Gabriel who didn’t want to go through the courts.”
Speaking after the incident, Sgt Ed Noble, of the Clifton Moor police team, urged local shopkeepers not to sell cigarette lighters and accelerants such as aerosol cans to young people.
The mother of another victim Connor Rowntree, now 18, who suffered 90 per cent burns while playing with an aerosol, also spoke of her alarm at hearing about the incident and warned young people of the dangers.
•Community resolution disposals are out-of-court resolutions for “lower-level” offences which are agreed with the police, offender and victim.
If victims talk to police and agree a course of action they are happy with – and if the offender agrees with the plan – there is no further criminal action.