A boy who caused £3million damage after copying a school science lesson by making a homemade Bunsen burner was ordered by a judge to 'sit in a cell and think'. The teenager admitted starting the inferno from his bedroom in his family's flat in Plymouth, Devon, which left 100 residents homeless, when he was aged 14. The boy, now 15, said he filled up an almost-empty can of Monster energy drink with hairspray and igniting the fumes with a lighter to create a "constant flame, an inch high".
After leaving it burn for five seconds, he put it on his bedside table, convinced he had blown it out, before opening a window and spraying air freshener to hide the smell.
He then went downstairs to the living room, but half an hour later, the smoke alarm went off and his mother discovered thick smoke pouring out of his bedroom.
The teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted one charge of arson with intent to endanger life.
Judge Ian Lawrie QC asked the lad to voluntarily go with his aunt to the court cells while he deliberated on the teen's sentence, last week.
Instructing the dock officers at Plymouth Crown Court, Judge Lawrie said: "I want him to sit downstairs. Lock the door and sit and have a think.
That could be his future."
Around 20 minutes later, Judge Lawrie returned and called for the boy to be brought to the dock, where he gave him an order and a curfew.
Gareth Warden, prosecuting, said fire crews had been called to the blaze at a block of 24 flats.
He said firefighters tried to enter the maisonette but were beaten back by the heat while the fire ripped through the roof space.
Since the incident, none of the residents have been able to return to the building, and some have been forced to live in bed and breakfasts.
Plymouth Youth Court heard the cost of the rebuild was around £2million, but when including the loss of possessions, the bill grew to between £2.5million and £3million.
Defending, Jason Beale, said he sometimes saw young men in court who showed their "arrogance borne out of ignorance about life, their posturing, their don't care attitude - this doesn't seem to be the case with [the boy]."
The teen was given a three year Intensive Supervision and Surveillance requirement and must attend a programme for 12 months, be subject of a three-month curfew between 7pm and 7am and pay a £15 victim surcharge.
No order for compensation was made.
After sentencing, speaking in a quiet voice, the 15-year-old said: "I'm thankful for what you've chosen. I'm going to stick with this and try my best."