A serial arsonist, serving a life sentence for starting fires which caused major damage to both a school and library, has now been convicted for setting light to items in his prison cell.

Aaron Foster was only six weeks into his life jail term, with a minimum ‘tariff’ of nine years, when he started the blaze in his cell at Deerbolt Young Offenders’ Institution and Prison, near Barnard Castle, on November 23, last year.

The incident took place little more than a month after Foster received the life sentence having been previously convicted for two counts of arson, at a school and a library in his hometown of Mixenden, near Halifax, West Yorkshire.

A jury returned unanimous guilty verdicts following a trial at Bradford Crown Court in July last year.The Northern Echo: Aaron Foster convicted of third arson attack in recent years after cell fire at Deerbolt YOI &

Foster’s fire attack on Ash Green Primary School, in Mixenden, in February, last year, caused an estimated £4.7m damage, 18 months after he set light to the town’s library, causing a further £180,000 worth of damage to the building which served as a community hub.

The court heard CCTV showed Foster breaking into the school on the evening of the arson attack, carrying a lit cigarette.

During the incident he rang 999 claiming he was trapped in the burning school building.

The court heard that having been rescued he denied being responsible for starting the fires and claimed others must have been responsible.

The Northern Echo: External view of Ash Green Primary School after fire started by  Aaron Foster in February last year

Foster was said to have a diagnosis of adult ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) and a psychologist’s report was prepared for the sentencing hearing.

Recorder Simon Myerson KC ruled that he poses a significant risk of serious harm to the public and, therefore, he felt a discretionary life sentence was appropriate.

He set a minimum term of nine years before he can be considered eligible for release, if it is considered safe to do so.The Northern Echo: Fire damage caused by Aaron Foster at Ash Green Primary School in Mixenden, near Halifiax, in

Foster, of Stanningley Drive, Mixenden, was serving the early part of that sentence in Deerbolt, which now operates as both a Young Offenders’ Institution and adult prison.

Following the cell fire on November 23 it was unknown how it had been started, but items which may have been used by the suspect were seized by prison staff.

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The now 21-year-old defendant denied a charge of arson at his plea hearing at Durham Crown Court, in June.

A trial began on Monday (November 13), but the jury returned unanimous guilty verdict on the third day.

Judge James Adkin imposed a four-year prison sentence and said it must be served consecutively to the nine-years’ minimum sentence imposed at Bradford Crown Court in October last year, extending the time Foster will serve in custody before he can be released under licence supervision.