Teen admits charity fire

Donna's Dream House, Blackpool. Len Curtis salvages a picture of Donna from the fire.
Donna's Dream House, Blackpool. Len Curtis salvages a picture of Donna from the fire.

A TEENAGER has been blasted for not having the “courage” to admit he was behind the fire which devastated a Blackpool charity.

Cairn Major yesterday admitted he had started the blaze which caused more than £100,000 of damage to Donna’s Dream House.

But Major, 19, of Tyldesley Road, Blackpool, only made the admission on the second day of his trial at Preston Crown Court, more than a year after deliberately starting the blaze at the family-run charity.

He also admitted two counts of burglary, while his co-defendant, 19-year-old Jason Baxendale, of Granville Road, Blackpool, admitted one charge of burglary.

After the two entered their pleas yesterday afternoon, Judge Heather Lloyd said: “Neither of you had the courage to accept what you did to this charity until the very last moment.

“There have been two previous trial dates which have been adjourned, and Tuesday was the second or third time the son of the proprietor of the charity, the fire officer and the police officer have had to come to court to give evidence.

“I will no doubt be told why it has taken the defendants so long to admit their guilt.”

The blaze broke out in the office of Donna’s Dream House, on Chapel Street, Blackpool, on the morning of 21 December 2011.

Preston Crown Court was told Major had broken into the office cabin and stolen a TV and digital camera, as well as starting two separate fires deliberately.

Major, along with Baxendale, also broke into the charity’s health suite cabin, although nothing was stolen and Baxendale’s barrister, Paul Humphries said he accepted the burglary charge on the grounds it was a “joint enterprise and (Baxendale) did not himself enter the cabin.”

David Birrel, prosecuting, described how the office cabin had to be rebuilt following the blaze, at a cost of £80,000, while the damage to its contents amounted to £25,000.

The jury had earlier watched CCTV images which showed the defendants by the back gate to the Dream House pulling their hoods up, before they were captured on CCTV inside the grounds of the Dream House, close to the health suite cabin.

The CCTV image had then shown a light coming on inside the health suite, which Det Con Philip Palmer said showed someone had entered.

And on Tuesday, Mark Curtis – the son of proprietor Len Curtis – described how the office had been “ransacked” before it was set alight.

Major was remanded in custody and Baxendale was released on bail, with a sentence date to be fixed next week.