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Boy, 10, took part in chapel blaze

A schoolboy has become one of the youngest people in the country to get a criminal record after he admitted causing damage related to a £115,000 arson attack when he was just 10.

The boy, who is now 11, admitted a charge of criminal damage connected to the fire in a chapel on a college campus last July when he appeared at Plymouth Youth Court in Devon today. Two of his friends, aged 11 and 12 at the time, admitted arson at the same court in December.

The court heard that the three got into the unsecured building at the College of St Mark and St John (Marjons) in the early evening and flicked "matchbombs" and lit tissue paper, using a fire extinguisher to douse the flames.

But while the youngest boy was in the toilet, the other boys started a fire they could not extinguish, and the trio fled.

The boy, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, barely came up to his solicitor's shoulder as he stood to tell magistrates he was "sorry for what I have done" - after being told to do so by his father, sitting next to him.

His father told the court: "We were horrified he was a part of this. He was with the wrong people at the wrong time but it doesn't excuse him. We have tried to bring him up to do the right thing and he did wrong. Hopefully, this will be the only time he will be up in front of you. We are sorry for everyone involved."

The boy, from Plymouth, was given a four-month referral order for criminal damage to a fire extinguisher after a charge of arson, which he had denied, was dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Ten is the youngest age a person can face criminal charges in the UK.

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