Teen faces jail after torching school

AN 18-year-old today admitted torching Copleston High School in Ipswich and causing damage running into hundreds of thousands of pounds.Ashley Norman, of Clifford Road, Ipswich, pleaded guilty at Ipswich Crown Court to committing arson on August 27 last year.

AN 18-year-old today admitted torching Copleston High School in Ipswich and causing damage running into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Ashley Norman, of Clifford Road, Ipswich, pleaded guilty at Ipswich Crown Court to committing arson on August 27 last year.

Norman is believed to have been a former pupil at the school and was arrested shortly after the blaze which ripped through the school.

Dozens of firefighters were sent to the scene to fight one of the biggest fires seen in Ipswich for years.

In court today, Nicholas Yeo, for Norman, said: “He knows he faces a lengthy custodial sentence. He is not going anywhere but it is very difficult for a young man sitting in custody until the end of June not knowing the result.”

Judge McKittrick ordered a psychiatric report and pre-sentence report on Norman and said he would decide at the next hearing on March 9 whether to sentence Norman earlier.

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Peter Gair prosecuting, said a 16-year-old boy had also been charged with the same offence.

The boy, who lives in Ipswich and cannot be named for legal reasons, has pleaded not guilty to the charge of arson.

His six-day trial is due to take place on June 25.

Naomi Perry, for the youth, said the defence wanted time “to consider the fire investigation and DNA.”

Judge Neil McKittrick said the defendants would remain in custody and Norman would be sentenced after the outcome of his co-defendant's trial.

Teachers and staff at Copleston tried to re-open the school as soon as possible after the pupils returned from their summer holidays.

The blaze tore through offices, staff rooms, science labs and a PE classroom, but was prevented from spreading to the remainder of the school.

Shortly after the fire headteacher Laurie Robinson said an air of positivity and defiance was driving the school forward.

He said “It's in our nature that we are problem solvers it's what we do for a living This is a different problem but everyone is working hard to solve it.

“The task we face is to assess how many students we can have in the school and how we can manage their movement."

Structural engineers condemned the parts of the first floor worst affected and demolition was needed.

A double and a single temporary classroom were set up as a double science lab.

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