Teen’s orange trousers revealed him setting fire to school

Fire damage at the old Paradykes Nursery building, Picture: Scott Louden / Johnston Press
Fire damage at the old Paradykes Nursery building, Picture: Scott Louden / Johnston Press

A TEENAGER who set fire to a primary school causing £20,000 worth of damage was caught after he was spotted near to the building wearing bright orange trousers.

The 15-year-old set the school building alight by setting fire to a pile of paper inside the former Paradykes primary school in Loanhead, Midlothian.

Fire damage at the old Paradykes Nursery building, Picture: Scott Louden / Johnston Press

Fire damage at the old Paradykes Nursery building, Picture: Scott Louden / Johnston Press

The boy, who cannot be named due to legal reasons, was seen by witnesses leaving the school grounds while wearing the hi-vis orange trews just before flames were seen coming from inside the building.

Strong winds hampered fire crews who had attended and it took around 12 hours for the blaze to be brought under control during the fire raising incident last November.

The teen, who lives in Midlothian, pleaded guilty to destroying the school building by setting fire to rolls of paper within a cupboard when he appeared in the dock at Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday. (TUES)

A 17-year-old boy, also from Midlothian, walked free from court after his not guilty plea to fire raising was accepted by the Crown.

Prosecutor Peter Motion told the court the school building had been plagued by teenage vandals after being boarded up due to a new school being built in the town.

Mr Motion said the teenage boy was seen walking towards the school with other youths at around 8.50pm on November 4 last year.

The fiscal said: “He was seen to be wearing a dark jumper and hi-visibility orange trousers at the time.

READ MORE: Bonfire Night carnage: Youths bring night of terror to community

“Around 9.30pm the fire service received an emergency phone call advising the former Paradykes primary school appeared to be on fire.

“The wooden section of the school was on fire and due to the strong winds that night the fire service had difficulty gaining control of the fire.

“On carrying out an investigation CCTV was reviewed and three individuals could be seen leaving the school shortly before flames were visible.”

The court was told it took around 12 hours for fire crews to control the inferno and the boy eventually admitted his involvement after a witness named him to police.

Mr Motion added: “Police attended at his address and detained him and a warrant was granted to search the house.

“On searching the house there was a bag containing the trousers along with a top and the accused’s mother said they were the clothes he had been wearing at the time of the offence.

“They smelled strongly of accelerants and matched the description of the bright fluorescent trousers.

“The cost of the damage is estimated to be around £20,000.”

READ MORE: Inferno rages into the early hours at former Loanhead school

The 15-year-old then told police officers he had set fire to cardboard with a lighter before running off.

He believed the “fire had not taken hold” and had returned home to collect paint remover which he had “intended to use to set the fire”.

But when he returned to the school he spotted smoke coming from the roof and did not need to use the paint remover.

The fiscal said the destroyed school building had to be fully demolished following the blaze

Solicitor James Stewart, defending, said the boy was currently being detained at a secure residential unit in the capital and that he “acknowledged the seriousness of the offence”.

Sheriff Frank Crowe deferred sentence to next month for the preparation of reports and for a psychiatric assessment to be carried out.

The 15-year-old boy admitted to wilfully setting fire to rolls of paper within a cupboard and destroying the building at Paradykes primary school, Loanhead, Midlothian, on November 4 last year.

Join our Facebook group Our Edinburgh to share images and news from and around the Capital