A TEENAGER sparked a £4million blaze then pretended he was a hero who had been saving people stuck inside the burning building.
Callum Cathie, 17, started a fire at the Tyneside Foyer hostel in Newcastle in the early hours of the morning while 34 of the residents were inside.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the building, which had just undergone a £1million refurbishment, quickly became engulfed in flames and a crowd gathered outside.
Prosecutor John Brennan told the court: “He spoke to a journalist outside and told her he had, despite warnings from the fire officers, gone into the building and led people to safety. This was not the case.”
Despite his claims, the court heard Cathie, of Browne Road, Fulwell, Sunderland, was caught on CCTV laughing after he started the blaze.
Cathie admitted arson being reckless to life endangered.
Judge John Evans yesterday jailed the teenager for three years.
The judge said: “As a result of what you did, the building was all but destroyed.
“The cost of putting it right is estimated at over £4million and you effectively rendered the other 34 occupants homeless.”