A TEENAGER has admitted starting a series of fires at several premises round a town one evening last summer.

John Ashley Kinsella’s fire-raising spree included two stores and a nursery school, in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, on Wednesday August 8.

Kinsella, 19, pleaded ‘guilty’ to three counts of arson during a short hearing at Durham Crown Court today (Wednesday January 9).

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He admitted starting fires at Homebase DIY store in Bishop Auckland, in which about £500 worth of damage was caused, at the nearby Iceland frozen food store, causing approximately £2,146 worth of damage, and at Aclet Close Nursery School, on the town’s Woodhouse Close estate, which suffered damage estimated at £2,886.

Asked by Judge Christopher Prince about the nature of the offences, prosecuting barrister Kieran Rainey told the court: “Fortunately in each case the fire brigade was on scene quite promptly to deal with the fires.

“They appear to have been started by pains of glass being broken and lit pieces of paper being pushed through the holes.

“When the firefighters arrived to deal with them there were reports of youths in the area waving lighters in the air.

“They were not reported as high level fires and in each case one appliance has been able to put out the resulting fires.

“There appears to have been no suggestion of petrol being used.”

Chris Baker, for Kinsella, asked for the preparation of both psychiatric and probation background reports on his client before he is sentenced.

“He’s 19 and has a previous conviction for arson on his record as well as several offences of criminal damage.

“The defence take the view that a court would not want to sentence in such a case without the benefit of a report by a psychiatrist.

“We know the sentence will be one of custody, but the only issue which needs to be addressed will be that of the potential dangerousness of the defendant.”

Judge Christopher Prince agreed to the request, adding: “The issue of dangerousness will need to be considered.

“I’ll also want some details of the previous arson offence and the criminal damage cases when he is brought back for sentence.”

Kinsella, of Proudfoot Drive, Bishop Auckland, was remanded in custody prior to sentence on Friday March 1.