View Full Version : Teen sentenced to 10 months after flat fire

22-Feb-13, 16:09
Fell asleep in front room after after taking drink and drugs Wick sheriff is told
A TEENAGER, responsible for a fire in his council flat caused 15,000 of damage it emerged in court yesterday.
Wick Sheriff Court was told yesterday that there was no hope of the local authority recovering the cost from Andrew Harper.
He had consumed a cocktail of drink and drugs when he dozed off in the front room of the flat at 33 Girnigoe Street, Wick, and awoke to find the room full of smoke. But was able to get out and raise the alarm and firefighters were able to contain the outbreak and prevent it spreading to the rest of the two-storey block.
Harper 19, previously admitted on indictment, having culpably or recklessly set fire to the flat on November 19, last year. He was sentenced to 10 months at a young offenders institution. An investigation revealed that two rings on the cooker hob had been in the ‘on’ position. There was a divan or mattress near the cooker and it was concluded that this was where the fire had started.
David Barclay, prosecuting, stressed that the fire had been caused by culpable or reckless conduct as opposed to deliberate fire-raising.
The senior fiscal depute said that Harper had a previous record for culpable or reckless conduct which had attracted community service orders and added: “He does not mean to do these things, but perhaps, taken in conjunction with a psychiatric report, there may be issues in his life which cause such difficulties.”
At an earlier hearing, solicitor George Mathers spoke of Harper’s difficult history involving drug taking at the early age of 12 and a succession of different authority homes after being taken into care.
Mr Mathers added: “Perhaps, it’s no wonder he gets himself into trouble.” It was stated that his mother was prepared to take him in after his inevitable custodial sentence on her terms.
Sheriff Andrew Berry observed that Harper had taken “welcome” steps while on remand to rehabilitate himself and turn things round and it was imperative that the accused would continue to address the issues on his release.
Another solicitor, Christopher Maitland, who represented Harper, yesterday that Harper had caused the fire by “filling himself up with alcohol and illegal substances” but had done his best to get out of the house and raise the alarm, once he became aware of the outbreak.
Mr Maitland commented: “His inability to control his intake of drink or drugs leads to this type of behaviour. While in custody he has tried to make inroads to achieving a positive life-style in the future.”
Sheriff Berry said he had also to take into account the fact that the accused had caused considerable damage and there was “no real prospect of him paying for it”.
The custodial sentence is backdated to November 15 when Harper was taken into custody. He will be under supervision for five months after his release.