Trio admit arson attack on Wigan primary school

The arsonists caught on CCTV
The arsonists caught on CCTV

Three teenagers will be sentenced next month after admitting starting a fire at a borough school.

The blaze at RL Hughes Primary School in Ashton destroyed a classroom and outbuilding, with the total cost of the damage reaching £90,000.

Headteacher Monica Middlehurst cleaning up the damage after the fire at RL Hughes Primary School

Headteacher Monica Middlehurst cleaning up the damage after the fire at RL Hughes Primary School

Three boys, aged 14, 15 and 17, had denied being involved with the blaze and were due to stand trial at Wigan Youth Court yesterday.

They appeared before District Judge Mark Hadfield, with their parents and other relatives sitting behind them.

The boys gave their addresses and dates of birth to the court, before the charges were put to them.

They each pleaded guilty to a single count of arson at the Mayfield Street school on December 9, 2016.

District Judge Hadfield said the hearing would be adjourned and they would be sentenced on Friday, February 9.

He told the boys they would be given credit for their guilty pleas and urged them to co-operate with the youth offending team, which will prepare reports before sentencing.

The hearing lasted just five minutes and the teenagers were remanded on unconditional bail.

The 14-year-old and 15-year-old boys live in Ashton, while the 17-year-old lives in Worsley Hall. They cannot be named for legal reasons.

Firefighters were called to RL Hughes Primary shortly after 10pm on Friday, December 9, 2016 after a shed was set alight in the nursery outdoor play area.

The blaze spread to the main building and badly damaged a classroom used by year five pupils.

Crews spent three hours working to save the building and an investigation was launched by the police.

CCTV footage from the school was examined as part of the investigation and images were released to the Post in a bid to identify those involved.

Det Sgt Graham Clare said at the time: “The fire caused significant damage to the school and could have resulted in even greater destruction.

“Fortunately, no-one was hurt and, if not for the work of the fire service, the consequences could have been much worse.”

Headteacher Monica Middlehurst said she was “determined” the fire would not have an adverse impact on the pupils and their education.

The school opened as normal on the following Monday, but the damaged classroom could not be used.

A team of builders from Parkinson’s worked hard to refurbish it as quickly as possible and they were able to return to the classroom seven weeks later.

She told the Post: “This could have destroyed eight classrooms and affected the education of 250 children which would have been extremely disruptive not to mention the cost.”