The awkward moment when you really want to do some science, but accidentally cause £3 million worth of damage instead.
That’s what happened to this 14-year-old, who tried to recreate a Bunsen burner from his chemistry class at school and ended up burning down his block of flats.
The kid, from Plymouth, used an empty can of Monster energy drink and hair spray to get the dimensions right. He says he then tried to follow what he’d learned at school by making a “constant flame, an inch high” which got bigger when you squeezed it.
Unfortunately, after he was done with it he didn’t put it out properly and left it on his bedside table near some clothes, which caught fire.
When the alarm went off his mum saw thick smoke coming from his room, and they evacuated the flat. The fire caused £3 million worth of damage and more than 100 people had to be rehomed.
The boy claimed it was an accident but pleaded guilty to arson, and was told he faced a substantial custodial sentence.
Prosecuting, Gareth Warden, told the court:
The full estimate was between £2.5m and £3m worth of damage and some of those who lost all their possessions had no insurance whatsoever and are still living in bed and breakfast accommodation.
The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was quiet in court as he pleaded guilty to one charge of arson with intent to endanger life.
Mr Warden continued:
Initially, firefighters entered the maisonette using breathing apparatus, but were beaten back by the heat. The fire got into the roof space and it ripped through the block of 24 three-bedroomed maisonettes.
The block was left beyond repair, and will have to be completely rebuilt.
Mr Warden acknowledged that the kid was very upset about the incident, but magistrates told the boy the level of damage – when compared to similar cases – meant it carried a sentence ‘substantially more than two years’ in a Young Offenders’ Institution.