Teenage arsonist started £1.4 million pub blaze next to A5
A teenager who started a fire at a £1.4 million pub before encouraging a friend to take the blame has been spared detention.
Joshua Wright, 16 at the time but now aged 18, set light to paper and dropped it behind a mattress in a bedroom at the Rising Sun on the A5 Chester Road in Brownhills, a judge heard.
The former pub was boarded up while waiting to be converted into a restaurant after being bought for £1.4m, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told.
Wright and four friends got into the building during an urban exploration craze during which social media users entered derelict properties and blogged their experiences.
Wright immediately ignited a mop and some curtains but friends stopped him, said Mr Talbir Singh, prosecuting.
Two of his pals followed him upstairs where one took a video of the defendant starting the blaze which destroyed the building on October 4 2017.
The youths did not think the fire was serious, tried to put it out with an extinguisher that did not work and left, the court heard.
“Wright was boasting and saying: ‘look what I have done’ and taking pictures of the fire from the other side of the road,” continued the prosecutor who revealed the building was surveyed by a structural engineer after the fire who recommended demolition.
Less than a month later one of the friends who had been with Wright volunteered to take the blame and he encouraged her to take full responsibility.
She told police, was charged with arson and appeared in court.
Wright sent her a message advising her to say it was a spliff that smouldered and lit but she provided a statement that told police the truth, said Mr Singh.
Wright, from Bevan Lee Road, Cannock, admitted arson and attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Mr Andrew Mitchinson, defending, said: “He had not committed an offence before and has not since. He recognises his actions could have been devastating.”
He was given 20 months detention in a Young Offenders Institution suspended for two years with a three-month night-time curfew and was ordered to attend a rehabilitation course.
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