Teenage town centre arsonist sentenced

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A teenager has been given a community sentence after admitting starting five fires that caused more than £7,000 of damage to six shopfronts.

The 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was given a referral order by a youth court sitting at Grantham Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

He pleaded guilty to five counts of arson at Spalding Magistrates’ Court in August. The charges relate to fires started in Stamford town centre on May 17.

The fires caused £3,921 of damage to Hambleton Bakery and £690 to Blockbuster in Ironmonger Street, £1,270 to Timpson in High Street, £700 to Fine Foods and £431 to You and Beyond, both in St Mary’s Street, and £50 to AJ’s Cards in Chapel Yard, off North Street.

Referral orders are given to young people aged 10 to 17 who plead guilty to offences punishable by imprisonment, provided they have not previously been convicted.

Anyone given a referral order must attend a youth offender panel, which includes two volunteers from the local community.

The panel draws up a contract for the offender to sign, which can include reparation or restitution to their victim and activities to address their behaviour.

Once the contract is complete the conviction is classed as spent.

If the young person refuses to agree a contract they are sent back to court for 
re-sentencing.

Peter Cooke, 20, of Rock House Gardens, Stamford, has also been charged with five counts of arson in connection with the same incidents.

His case has been sent to Lincoln Crown Court and will be next heard on November 8.

Cooke indicated an intention to plead guilty at Spalding Magistrates’ Court on August 29.