Boy, 13, pleads guilty to arson which caused �60,000 of damage to Norfolk farm

A farmer has told how his business was crippled after a fire started by a teenager caused �60,000 of damage to his barn.

Yesterday, a 13-year-old boy admitted arson, but claimed he had only sprayed deodorant over a hay bale which was then lit by a friend. He was given a 10-month referral order.

The blaze on Limes Road, Catfield, soon spread on November 26 last year, needing six fire crews working through the night to put out.

In a statement to Norwich Youth Court yesterday the farming business, J B Gardiner Partnership, which has been built up over three generations, said the fire was still affecting it five months later.

It said: 'The loss and coming to terms with the situation has been enormous. It has caused immense difficulties. Many hours have been spent engaging with the insurance company. It has been a very difficult period of time. It has left us feeling very vulnerable.'

The barn has had to be demolished and a planning application will need to be put in to the council for a replacement.

The farmers lost 900 straw bales, making up 450 tonnes of bedding and feed.

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Farm equipment and a diesel tank were also destroyed, but the true value of the loss is yet to be calculated.

The barn was 12m away from a cattle pen with 250 cows and diesel shed, but the wind was blowing in the opposite direction, taking the fumes away from their stock and the village.

Damien Moore, mitigating, said the child, who can not be identified for legal reasons, had been 'exceptionally well brought up'.

He said the schoolboy was playing with two other boys and he sprayed deodorant on the bale to fit in with them.

They had been messing around that afternoon by spraying deodorant on trees and lighting them.

Mr Moore said the boy had phoned the fire service immediately.

The boy told the court: 'I feel so sorry for him (the farmer) because I have ruined his whole life. I just wish I had never gone out that day.'

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