Teenager in court charged with manslaughter after Harold Cox Place fire

AN ELDERLY couple died after a teenager who attended a fire safety course deliberately torched a mobility scooter parked outside their sheltered accommodation - and then bragged about it to his friends, a court heard.

The 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, set fire to Kath and and Albert Adams’ scooter ‘just for a bit of fun’ before fleeing the scene and boasting to his mates.

He then showed photographs of the blaze taken on his mobile phone to his friends, a jury was told today (Monday).

The fire spread to the 77-year-old couple’s ground floor maisonette in Harold Cox Place, Rugby and both died after suffering smoke inhalation on February 27 last year.

The defendant, who was 15 at the time of the incident, is also alleged to have started another fire at the complex 48-hours later, but no-one was hurt.

Opening the trial at Birmingham Crown Court, Gareth Evans QC said: “This man is charged with deliberately setting alight two mobility scooters that were parked outside the homes of elderly pensioners in Rugby.

“Some time just after 2am that morning, this defendant went and used a naked flame, probably a lighter, and he set Mr Adams’ scooter alight.

“The flames spread to the building and they quickly became enveloped in smoke. The front of the building was very badly fire out.

“Both fires were started within 48-hours of each other and in circumstances which the prosecution say are remarkably similar.

“The prosecution say this young man is the person responsible for those two fires.”

The court heard the defendant had attended a fire safety course and learnt how to put out small fires.

After both blazes, the teen confessed to friends and said police were ‘chasing him’, the court sitting without robes heard. When talking about a police helicopter that was flying above the area after the second fire, the defendant told a pal: ‘That’s me’.

“We say that in that conversation the defendant was saying he was responsible for the helicopter being out in the sky in Rugby. There can be no other explanation,” Mr Evans added.

The jury heard that the defendant returned to the scene of the first fire to take pictures on his mobile phone. He later said to a pal: ‘I should not have done that. I might have killed someone.”

Mr Evans continued: “We say that he is the person who committed both those fires. Within an hour or so, this young man is at a his friend’s address confessing to being responsible.

“He bragged about being responsible for the first fire. He also showed him three or four photographs of fire engines and smoke that were on his phone.”

The defendant, who sat rocking on his chair throughout the proceedings, is also accused of setting fire to a mobility scooter outside another property at the complex.

The court was told Lewis and Ivy Williams, 90, also had a scooter parked outside their home next to a gas and electricity metre. It was torched in the early hours of March 1 last year and had been tampered with - a long strip had been cut out of the plastic cover - prior to the fire at the Adam’s.

Mr Evans told the jury: “Someone had deliberately cut that strip in that cover. The prosecution say it was the defendant who had cut that. He was responsible for it and it was done in some way as preparation for another fire that would have allowed him to set that mobility scooter alight.

“We don’t know why it was that night that scooter was not burnt as well but what we do know is that someone tampered with that scooter - we say it was the defendant.”

The defendant sat at the back of the court dressed in a suit with an intermediary and social worker either side of him. The jury was told he suffers from learning difficulties and would require regular breaks during the proceedings.

He is charged with two counts of manslaughter and two counts of arson.

The trial continues.