The two teenagers charged with arson following a fire at a Norwich children’s centre have appeared in court.

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The two 15-year-old boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons, are accused of causing the blaze at the Phoenix Centre, in Mile Cross Road, on December 15 which led to £100,000 of damage.

They appeared before magistrates today at Norwich Youth Court, when one of them pleaded not guilty to arson.

The other boy did not enter a plea at the hearing. His defence lawyer said the boy had learning difficulties and there were concerns about his ability to participate in and understand the court process.

She asked for the court to allow time for him to be properly assessed by a psychologist specialising in learning difficulties to determine if he was fit to plead.

The case was adjourned until March 14, when the next hearing is due to take place. The boys are not expected to attend this next hearing.

Both of the teenagers have been released on conditional bail. The conditions are that they must not have contact with each other, they must not be in possession of lighters, matches or accelerants, and they must abide by a 9pm to 6am curfew.

The blaze was reported just before 10pm on Saturday, December 15 and firefighters battled to contain the flames, but the fire caused considerable damage to the building.

A third of the roof was destroyed and considerable damage was caused to the centre’s main community rooms, toys and equipment.

Nobody was in the centre at the time.

Following the fire, a flood of donations, including cash, computers, toys and paint, meant that the centre was quickly able to get back on its feet and it was able to host a Christmas party just a week after the fire.

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