Copleston arsonists behind bars

TWO teenage arsonists are behind bars today after torching an Ipswich school, causing around £1million damage.

TWO teenage arsonists are behind bars today after torching an Ipswich school, causing around £1million damage.

Former Copleston High School pupils Ashley Norman, 19, and Jason Watling, 17, burned down their old school last August, one week before the start of the new school term.

Today at Ipswich Crown Court judge David Goodin sentenced Norman, of Clifford Road, Ipswich, to three years in a young offenders' institute and Watling, of Romney Road, Ipswich, to four years.

He also lifted a court order barring the naming of Watling after a request from The Evening Star because he said that it was in the public interest to name him.

Judge Goodin said: “It was an extremely grave crime committed as it was on a school serving east Ipswich with a large number of pupils as indeed you know, you were both at it.

“The work (to repair the school) still isn't complete a year later.

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“It is striking and a matter of sheer chance that the fire was noticed as quickly as it was and the fire did not spread much more quickly to the built up parts of Ipswich with potentially devastating and fatal consequences.

“This wasn't a casual flick of a match thrown in an open window and a standing back to see what happened for a bit of fun followed by horror at the consequence.”

During the sentencing the court heard how the pair had gone to the roof of the school with some pals after Norman was dumped by his girlfriend.

Norman and Watling then set light to a vent near the staff room before going into the gym and setting light to a trampoline.

In sentencing the teenagers judge Gooding said he took into account Norman's guilty plea and Watling's initial denial, before he was found guilty by a jury.

He also included Watling's admission of affray and not attending a court hearing in the four year sentence.

Thomas Broughton, 19, of Spring Road, Ipswich, was also sentenced to affray with Watling after pleading guilty to the offence.

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