A TEENAGER who started a fire at a family home by posting a homemade smoke bomb through the letterbox has been ordered to complete 160 hours of unpaid work.

Grant Young, 19, and his 15-year-old accomplice, who cannot be named for legal reasons, created the smoke bomb using a golf ball and tinfoil before posting it through the front door of a property at Chepstow Court, in Darlington, on the afternoon of June 7.

Magistrates in Newton Aycliffe heard the smoke bomb caused the door to go up in flames, leaving the victim to put the fire out and call the police.

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John Garside, prosecuting, said Young, of Trafford Close, was seen with his accomplice at a nearby telephone box holding a lighter.

He said: “They [the defendants] say they only wanted to smoke them out as a prank.”

Mr Garside said the victim’s son said he was upset that anyone would cause damage to the house for no reason.

In mitigation, Amrit Jandoo said the offence was “born out of boredom” and that unemployed Young did not have much to do that day.

He told the court the pair did not intend to cause any damage and the offence was a foolish prank gone wrong.

He said: “He is quite ashamed of his behaviour. He said he should never have been using those balls to set fire to, let alone put through a letterbox.”

He told the court Young has also distanced himself from his accomplice.

Young, who has no previous convictions, pleaded guilty to arson at an earlier hearing and returned to court today (Thursda, July 31) for sentencing.

Sentencing him to a 12 month community order with supervision and 160 hours of unpaid work, chairwoman of the bench Lynette Harrison told Young: “We don’t have to tell you how stupid you are do we?

“At the end of the day it was an extremely serious offence which could have had very serious consequences to the people who live in that house.”

He was also ordered to pay £25 compensation, a £60 victim surcharge and £85 costs.

His co-accused pleaded guilty to arson at an earlier hearing and was granted unconditional bail ahead of his next appearance at youth court in Newton Aycliffe on Monday, August 4.