Teenager sentenced for starting fire at iconic Liver Building
A teenager who fired a rocket that caused a fire at the iconic Liver Building as Liverpool FC fans celebrated their team’s league victory has been sentenced to 12 months in a Young Offender Institution, suspended for 18 months.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said that Matthew Egglesden, 19, of Turning Lane, Scarisbrick, fired the powerful ‘The King-Reborn Rocket’ firework at the building on 26 June 2020.
Thousands of people had gathered at the Pier Head, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, to celebrate the fact that Liverpool FC had won the Premier League title.
They had gathered despite appeals not to do so by the city council and Merseyside Police who wanted to restrict large gatherings because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Police officers working to control the crowds said the gathering was dense and the make-up of the crowd complex. There were families as well as older people and teenagers.
It was clear that alcohol had been consumed by many. Glass bottles were thrown at officers and fireworks were being fired across the crowds and several aimed at the Liver Building.
Some fans said that blue lighting on the Liver Building showed support for Everton FC. That was an entirely mistaken impression. The building is home to the company behind Everton FC but the lights were actually red, white and blue to show support for Armed Forces Day.
At about 10.19pm a fire was spotted on a balcony at the Liver Building and the fire brigade was called. Fire investigators later said that the firework had caused several fires to break out on the balcony.
Today’s sentencing hearing at Liverpool Crown Court was told that the cost of the damage to the Liver Building was estimated at £29,506.
The owners of the Liver Building also said that the adverse publicity around the case has affected business as it is often used as a venue for weddings and similar functions.
Social media images from the event showed Matthew Egglesden aiming the firework at the building. His father saw these the following day and confronted his son about them. He contacted the police and Egglesden was interviewed.
He pleaded guilty to arson on 30 July 2020 and today, 21 August 2020, at Liverpool Crown Court, he was given a 12 month suspended sentence and ordered to do 15 days of a rehabilitation activity.
He must also do 100 hours of unpaid work in the community and pay £3,000 in compensation to the Royal Liver Building management company and £3,183 to Merseyside Fire Brigade.
He is also subject to an electronic tag curfew for 3 months and must not leave home between the hours of 8pm to 6am in that period.
Crown Advocate Chris Taylor of CPS Mersey Cheshire said: “The day after firing the rocket and causing the fire, Matthew Egglesden was described by his family as being teary and upset. He told them he felt that his life was going in the wrong direction.
“Shortly after that, his father saw images of his son on the Liverpool Echo website, firing the rockets at the Liver Building. Quite rightly, Mr Egglesden tackled his son about this and reported the incident to the police.
“Matthew Egglesden admitted at an early stage that he had fired the rocket but said he hadn’t meant to cause any damage. However, to fire a powerful firework such as this at the building was almost guaranteed to cause damage.
“On the night, he appears to have been reckless at to what the outcome of his actions might be. This should have been a night when the city was proud of its achievements.
“Instead images went around the world of disruption, disorder and damage as a result of the celebrations of Liverpool FC’s success.
“Matthew Egglesden had his part to play in that extremely negative publicity and he needs to learn from that.”