Four young men sentenced for school fire - Luton

06/02/2015

Four young men, who started a fire at a Luton school and caused £200,000 worth of damage, were today, Friday, 06 February 2015, sentenced at St Albans Crown Court.

A classroom was gutted, other classrooms and corridors were smoke damaged and cherished work belonging to the pupils was lost in the flames. A temporary portocabin had to be set up in the playground at Downside Primary School in Chaul End Road following the blaze on 06 April 2013.

At St Albans Crown Court today, Judge Stephen Warner was told the four had all been of good character and came from respectable families who had been left shocked by what had happened.

Barrister Roderick Price, who represented one of the young men, a 17-year-old Luton teenager, said: "It was one crazy moment on one crazy day."

The youth, along with another 17-year-old from Luton, 20-year-old Ahasaan Khan from Humberstone Road, Luton and Mohammed Iqbal, aged 18, also of Humberstone Road, appeared for sentence following a trial.

Khan and Iqbal along with one of the 17-year-old youths had been found guilty of arson. The second 17-year-old had been cleared of arson, but convicted instead of burglary with intent to cause damage.

At the trial, the jury heard how all four youths had gone into the grounds of the school during the day on 06 April 2013. It was at the time of the Easter Holidays and the school was empty of pupils and staff. Three of the group then got onto a flat roof and began hurling stones at windows and breaking them.

The jury heard that a fire had then been started in one of the classrooms after books and paper were piled up and matches and a lighter used to ignite them. Who actually started the fire is still not known, but the flames quickly spread out of control resulting in massive damage, with one classroom completely gutted.

The court was told the emotional impact on the children coming back to school after the holidays and seeing their work destroyed had been devastating.

Khan was sent into a young offenders' institute for 20 months. Mohammed Iqbal received 18 months custody in a young offenders' institute. The 17-year-old found guilty of the arson was given a 12 month detention and training order and the 17-year-old convicted of the offence of burglary with intent to cause damage was given a Youth rehabilitation Order to run for six months. He will also be the subject of a home curfew for the next three months between 7pm and 7am.

Judge Warner told the group: "This was in my view wanton and mindless vandalism." The judge said once the fire was started no one could know how far it would spread or what the consequences would be.

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