AN eleven-year-old who admitted starting a fire with another boy which destroyed nearly £11,000 worth of primary school play equipment has appeared in court.

The boy, who cannot be identified because of his age, pleaded guilty to arson and burglary at Crook Primary School when he appeared at County Durham and Darlington Magistrates Court today (Monday).

The incidents occurred on Saturday, November 30, when a bin placed next to a climbing frame in the school grounds was set alight.

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The blaze spread to the equipment, completely destroying it.

Rachael Dodsworth, prosecuting, said the local community was ‘outraged’ by the crime and the defendants were named as suspects by several parents in the area whose children heard them boasting of their antics.

They also stole £6 worth of sweets from a classroom in the school.

District Judge Martin Walker imposed a six-month referral order on the defendant and ordered he pay £100 compensation to the school – the same punishment as his co-accused, who was sentenced last week.

Passing sentence, Judge Walker told the eleven-year-old: “If you were a grown-up, the starting point for arson is to consider whether a big community penalty or prison is appropriate.

“This is actually something that started off as boyish behaviour but has gone beyond.

“I take into account that you tried to put the fire out.”

The play equipment was recently replaced after a community fundraising campaign.