Teenagers plead guilty to arson

THREE Exmouth schoolboys set fire to Brixington Primary School, causing more than �25,000 of damage and destroying 'irreplaceable' work by pupils. The teenagers defendant 'A', aged 14, defendant 'B', aged 15, and defendant 'C', aged 14 cannot be named for legal reasons.

THREE Exmouth schoolboys set fire to Brixington Primary School, causing more than �25,000 of damage and destroying 'irreplaceable' work by pupils.The teenagers - defendant 'A', aged 14, defendant 'B', aged 15, and defendant 'C', aged 14 - cannot be named for legal reasons. They admitted arson and causing criminal damage when they appeared at Exeter Youth Court.The court heard they had set alight a design and technology storage shed at the school on December 12, last year.Defendant 'C' also admitted setting fire to a portable toilet on a building site adjacent to Bassetts Farm School, in St Johns Road, on the same evening, causing �613 of damage.Defendants 'A' and 'B' also admitted setting fire to and 'completely destroying' two wheelie bins, worth �700, at Brixington School, on December 11Both also admitted kicking down eight walls at the front of properties opposite the school on December 18, causing damage totalling �2,150.David Burgess, for the prosecution, told the court that the youths first purchased firelighters from nearby Tesco.He said: "They are three young men with no previous convictions... but this isn't wholly relevant - these are very serious charges."He said the incidents at Brixington School, on December 11 and 12, had been during the evening and that "there is no allegation that lives were in any danger..."But, he said: "They put firelighters under the wooden shed (the design and technology store) and set fire to it. Students lost work."The damage to the building has resulted in a loss of amenity to others."The bins, set alight the day previously, were 'completely destroyed'.Defendants 'A' and 'B' had 'no idea of whose walls they had kicked down', but he said: "While each do not admit every offence, they do accept they were acting together in relation to them."In mitigation, the defence solicitor for defendant 'A', Ms Bentley, said her client should be given credit as he had 'admitted guilt when questioned' and the incidents were 'out of character'.Ms Hodgson, acting for defendant 'B', said her client 'turned himself in' to police. If he had not done so, it was likely that the defendants would not be in court."There was no other evidence... no CCTV footage and no witnesses," she said, adding: "They take full responsibility. What they did was stupid... and could have had disastrous results." Chairman of the bench Maureen Bates adjourned the case until April 1 and ordered a pre-sentence report.Afterwards, the headteacher of Brixington School Eric Howard said: "We have lost a whole term. "Reconstruction of the building is happening now, but what the fire didn't destroy, smoke and water did."Until we get the compensation through, we can't replace some things.""A lot of pupils' work was lost - and is irreplaceable. "Toilets have been lost and a lot of materials in the design store, which we collected over the years, have also been lost."Staging (pupils use for presentations and performances) has been destroyed and tools that have to be kept under lock and key now have to be replaced."It's going to be at least the summer term before things are back to normal.


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