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Teenager remanded over shop blaze

A teenager has been remanded in custody charged with causing £319,000 of damage to stock at a clothing store which was set on fire during rioting in Manchester city centre.

Dane Williamson, 18, of Broughton Road, Salford, is accused of criminal damage and recklessly endangering life over the blaze at Miss Selfridge in Market Street.

He was remanded in custody at Manchester Magistrates' Court to appear at Manchester Crown Crown for a preliminary hearing on August 18. The defendant claimed he was the victim of mistaken identity.

Gareth Brandon, prosecuting, told the court that Williamson was charged with a serious offence which carried a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and would have to be dealt with at crown court. He said: "This was an opportunistic offence in the context of the widespread disorder at the time. The incident has been widely reported in the press. It was damage by fire, an offence of arson against Miss Selfridge in Market Street."

The prosecutor said that, according to Miss Selfridge, the fire-damaged stock was now unsaleable. The damage costs relate solely to the clothing and not the store itself.

Williamson was arrested after the footage was viewed by police, he said. When interviewed, Williamson admitted he had been in the vicinity earlier that day but had left by the time of the incident and was on a bus on the way to his brother's house.

Meanwhile, a judge said he had no powers to jail a 13-year-old boy who went into a riot-hit city with a hammer strapped to his leg. The boy visited Manchester with the weapon in response to a Facebook invitation from friends to watch the trouble unfold. He was given a nine-month referral order at Manchester Magistrates' Court after he pleaded guilty to possessing an offensive weapon without lawful excuse.

Sentencing him, District Judge Khalid Qureshi said: "If you had been 15 you would be going straight through that door (to the cells). No question about it. Nothing your mum would have said would have prevented that happening. The stupidity of arming yourself with a weapon is unbelievable."

Separately, a teenage looting suspect who allegedly bragged on Facebook that he "couldn't be caught" has been arrested on suspicion of burglary, police said. The 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was held at his home in Stockport, Greater Manchester, earlier tonight.

Announcing the arrest, Greater Manchester Police tweeted: "Just locked up another man for stolen goods after he bragged on Facebook he couldn't be caught. Wrong."


From Belfast Telegraph