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Young arsonist behind bars after fire-raising spree in Bishop Auckland
A TEENAGE arsonist seemed to enjoy his moment in the spotlight following his arrest after starting three fires in less than half-an-hour.
John Ashley Kinsella was today (Friday March 1) given a 27-month sentence in a young offenders’ institution after admitting three counts of arson, stemming from a night of disorder on Bishop Auckland’s Woodhouse Close Estate.
Durham Crown Court heard that Kinsella, with an accomplice, started fires at Aclet Close Nursery School, an Iceland store and at Homebase DIY, between 12.50 and 1.15am on Wednesday August 8 last year.
In each case alarms sounded and firefighters arrived to quickly put out the blazes, restricting the damage to a total of about £6,000.
Kieran Rainey, prosecuting, said holes were smashed in windows with burning material thrown through to start two of the blazes, while a metal container was set alight at the side of Iceland.
Mr Rainey said the fire crews reported seeing two youths in the area laughing and jeering, waving what appeared to be lighters.
Police searched for suspects and 19-year-old Kinsella was stopped in the company of another youth, but both fled in different directions.
Kinsella was eventually caught and arrested after a struggle with PC Alan Bates in which he tried to bite his face.
But Kinsella was, in return, bitten in the leg by PC Bates’ dog, Dixie.
PC Bates suffered a broken bone in the hand in the incident, for which Kinsella was previously jailed for three months, for resisting an officer.
Mr Rainey told the court an officer who assisted PC Bates described Kinsella as appearing drunk.
“He was aggressive and shouting loudly for all local residents to hear.
“The officer formed the view that the defendant was enjoying his moment reminding everyone of his identity as if he were a local hero.”
Despite initially denying involvement, forensic evidence linked him to the fires and Kinsella made admissions at the plea hearing, in January.
Mr Rainey added that the offences took place on a night of vandalism on the estate, with widespread graffiti spraying, windows smashed, while fire engines were pelted with stones.
The court heard Kinsella, now 20, of Proudfoot Drive, Bishop Auckland, has 45 convictions for 70 offences, including a previous arson when he set fire to his cell at a young offenders’ institution, nearly killing himself.
Chris Baker, mitigating, said despite his depressing background there is a “glimmer of hope” for Kinsella following the recent birth of his first child, which may help him to mend his ways.
Imposing the custodial sentence, Judge Christopher Prince said Kinsella’s spree appeared to be “showing off” to his peer group.