A troubled teenager who admitted to starting a devastating fire at a Burnley Spar shop said he was paid £1,000 by rival shopkeepers to carry out the arson.
Ben Young (19) of Thorn Street, Duke Bar, was jailed for four years after pleading guilty to starting the fire which caused £950,000 worth of damage to the Spar shop in Padiham Road on Sunday, January 6th.
Young admitted to making a hole in the roof of the shop using a chisel, pouring petrol down and then stuffing it with a lighted tissue.
Judge Jonathan Gibson, sitting at Burnley Crown Court, heard how the fire quickly got out of control and Young became trapped on the roof.
The damage was so bad that the shop has since had to be demolished.
Judge Gibson heard representations from Young’s solicitor Miss Laura Heywood who told how Young had been cajoled into starting the fire by two Asian men.
Miss Heywood revealed that Young had been approached by two Asian men through a man he had met in prison. After being arrested for the arson, he told police the men had threatened to kill him or offer him £1,000 to torch the Spar. They had a shop in the area which they felt would get more custom if the Spar was burned down.
She added: “When this opportunity presented itself, where he could receive what would be a substantial amount of money for him, he foolishly accepted.
“He clearly lacks consequential thinking skills. He was instructed how to start the fire by these two men and driven to a petrol station to buy the fuel and lighters. He clearly didn’t appreciate the risk. His offending started when he was taken into care. Sadly, other people in the care home had a negative influence on him and he later became addicted to cannabis.
“He has had a very unsettled life since he left care, and has no contact with his family. He realises that people could have died as a result – this has been a traumatic experience for him. He has gone above and beyond in assisting police in finding the other men.”
Judge Gibson was told police were currently interviewing another man in connection with the arson.