Youths jailed after £200,000 arson attack on Downside School in Luton

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Four young men who started a fire at a Luton school caused £200,000 worth of damage.

A classroom was gutted, other classrooms and corridors were smoke damaged and cherished work belonging to the pupils was lost in the flames.

A temporary portocabin had to be set up in the playground at Downside Primary School in Chaul End Road following the blaze on April 6 2013.

At St Albans crown court on Friday Judge Stephen Warner was told the four had all been of good character and came from respectable families who had been left shocked by what had happened.

Barrister Roderick Price, who represented a 17 year old Luton teenager, said “It was one crazy moment on one crazy day.”

The youth, along with another 17 year old from Luton, 20 year old Ahasaan Khan from Humberstone Road, Luton and Mohammed Iqbal, 18, also of Humberstone Road, appeared for sentence following a trial.

Khan and Iqbal along with one of the 17 year old youths had been found guilty of arson.

The second 17 year old had been cleared of arson, but convicted instead of burglary with intent to cause damage.

The jury heard how all four youths had gone into the grounds of the schoolin the Easter Holidays when the school closed.

Three of the group then got onto a flat roof and began hurling stones at windows and breaking them.

The jury heard that a fire had then been started in one of the classrooms after books and paper were piled up and matches and a lighter used to ignite them.

Khan was sent into a young offenders institute for 20 months. Iqbal received 18 months custody in a young offenders’ institute.

The 17 year old found guilty of the arson was given a 12 month detention and training order and the 17 year old convicted of the offence of burglary with intent to cause damage was given a Youth rehabilitation Order to run for six months. He will also be the subject of a home curfew for the next three months.

Judge Warner told the group “This was in my view wanton and mindless vandalism.”

The judge said once the fire was started no one could know how far it would spread or what the consequences would be.