Teenager set fire to his Sunderland children’s home after being told to leave

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A TEEN tearaway who sparked a £10,000 blaze at a children’s home has been put behind bars.

The 16-year-old had wanted to keep living at the home so he could take drugs, stay off school and avoid having to live by his family’s rules.

When officials said in February he could no longer stay at the Wearside home, he lit a fire in his room, using air freshener and aftershave as an accelerant.

He then covered the smoke detector with wet socks and broke his key in the door lock to prevent firefighters getting easy access.

The youth told officials he wanted to go to jail, and a judge described his actions and attitude as “chilling”.

Prosecutor Caroline McGurk told Newcastle Crown Court: “As well as the financial costs, as a result of the defendant’s actions, the utilities have had to be disconnected as part of the repair operation.

“The premises is no longer habitable; the other five residents had to be rehoused within the care system.”

The court heard the home is to undergo repairs costing more than £10,000, along with a £4,500 cleaning bill, before it can reopen.

The youth, who cannot be named, pleaded guilty to arson being reckless whether life was endangered.

Judge Roger Thorn QC, sentencing him to three years’ detention, told him: “You raise a very serious question: Are you just a youngster off the rails for the moment or are you exhibiting here signs that suggest you will go on to very much more serious offending in due course? About that, the jury is out.

“You clearly have a capacity to be hugely self-destructive, hugely selfish and hugely manipulative.

“A chilling feature is your complete lack of remorse, and you positively want to go to jail, as you told the police. Locking you up is the only possible thing I can do.”

Chris Morrison, defending, accepted the offence had “sinister overtones” but said the youth, who had a cannabis habit, set the blaze at a time when he knew the residents would be downstairs having tea and could easily get out.