Young fire raisers could kill someone

PUBLISHED: 22:41 17 December 2001 | UPDATED: 11:02 03 March 2010

A NINE-year-old arsonist has escaped punishment because he is too young to be charged with his actions.

The youngster set fire to bags of clothes at the rear of St.

A NINE-year-old arsonist has escaped punishment because he is too young to be charged with his actions.

The youngster set fire to bags of clothes at the rear of St. Elizabeth's Hospice destroying several bags of clothes.

Suffolk police were called to the scene and went to the youngsters' house but because he was under the age of criminal responsibility, no charges can be brought against him or his parents.

It is the third time premises in the row of shops along Nacton Road have been targeted by young fire bugs and one of the landlords who rents out the flats above, fears that someone will be injured or even killed if nothing is done soon.

Gary Dowson said: "Hitting a charity shop is the worst thing they could do.

"Sooner of later someone is going to be killed."

A spokeswoman for Suffolk police confirmed two people had been spoken to with regards to the first two fires but also released without charge.

The shop is next door to an empty shop, Mr Shoes, which stands below the flat rented out by Mr Dowson.

Workers at the shop were horrified to find that several bags of clothes, protected by tarpaulin had been torched.

John Goodship, hospice manager said: "We don't get a lot of trouble at our charity shops and it is very distressing when it happens.

"Luckily on this occasion the damage was confined to items of very little value.

"We only opened in October (at Nacton Road) and it is proving very successful, the local people are supporting it, so it is disappointing when this happens."

The fire, which happened around 10pm on December 8, was started so close to the shop and was so intense that a double glazed window cracked from the heat.

It is unknown whether the flat above the shop was occupied at the time but one worker said that had there have been more bags outside, then the fire could have been far worse.

Following another fire last month, Mr Dowson is now having to make extensive repairs to the flat he owns after vandals burned down a garage in the back garden and also started a fire close to the building, which wrecked a door and paintwork. A fence between the two buildings has also been destroyed by fire.

Mr Dowson claims that witnesses had seen a group of youngsters throwing a drink can filled with petrol at the premises.

He said: "The shop (Mr Shoes) was open at the time and there was a lady working in there - she was terrified."

Suffolk police are currently carrying out Operation Martley in the area, which is aimed at trying to combat this kind of behaviour following an increase in reported crime such as car thefts and criminal damage.

Inspector Andy Solomon has warned the youngsters that arson is an extremely serious offence.

He said: "This is very dangerous and could be life threatening.

"It is an offence which will see youngsters up in court and for those who are under the age of criminal responsibility I would wish to make parents aware that they should be concerned as to what their children are up to when they are not at home."

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