Court case sends out message to arsonists

A senior officer with Cleveland Fire Brigade said that a successful prosecution this week (Thursday 14 April) sends out a clear message that Cleveland Fire Brigade will not tolerate arsonists.Barry Waller, Head of Fire Engineering for Cleveland Fire Brigade was speaking after Stephen Thomas Smith pleaded guilty at Teesside Crown Court to setting fire to wheelie bins in the Berwick Hills area of Middlesbrough on December 28 last year. 

Smith was sentenced to four years in a young offender’s institution. 

Three appliances attended the scene in Bradhope Road to extinguish fires to several wheelie bins, one of which was located close to a house where the occupants were alerted by their smoke alarm and were evacuated. 

Barry Waller said: “This incident could have been very serious had it not been for the fact that the occupants of the house were alerted by their smoke alarm. Three fire engines spent almost an hour and a half tackling the fires which were purely down to arson. 

“Following the incident we carried out a joint investigation with Cleveland Police which involved monitoring CCTV footage and we are delighted that the perpetrator has been brought before the courts. 

“This case reiterates Cleveland Fire Brigade’s stance that it will not tolerate anyone who deliberately starts a fire. The general public can be reassured that we will vigorously investigate all fires in the Teesside area and seek to always prosecute any identified offenders.”

In recent years incidents of arson have significantly reduced throughout the Cleveland area. In 2007/08 there were 6,149 incidents of arson compared to 2,540 in 2010/11 – a 58.7 per cent reduction. 

To help keep you and your family safe from fire,the Brigade provides free Home Fire Safety Visits and will fit smoke alarms if needed. Call us on 01429 874063 to arrange a visit to your home and you will receive specific fire safety advice for you and your family. 

For further safety information and news about the Brigade visit www.clevelandfire.gov.uk or join us on Facebook or Twitter.