Leyland school fire: ‘My son is sorry he was there’

Fire aftermath at Leyland St Mary's Catholic Technology College

Fire aftermath at Leyland St Mary's Catholic Technology College

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The mum of the youngest boy cleared of starting the fire that devastated Leyland St Mary’s school today told how he ran home and begged her to call the fire service after the blaze broke out.

Two boys, aged 14 and 16, were sentenced for arson at Preston Crown Court on Friday.

Five boys in total were originally charged in connection with the fire, but three, including an 11-year-old boy, were later cleared.

The 11-year-old’s mum told the Evening Post: “He was the only one brave enough to get help and to confess what had happened.

“None of the others did. He was sorry he had been there.”

The youngster, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had spent that day cleaning his rabbit’s hutch and packing his school bag for the new term. He went out with his 15-year-old friend to play in the school grounds at St Mary’s.

Moments before the blaze, the group of boys had been playing Indiana Jones with a rope after making a den in the school grounds.

Just after 4pm that day, as the fire erupted, the youngest boy ran to his house, asking for help.

His mum said: “One of the 15-year-olds was hanging around outside too.

“My son was crying, but the other boy said nothing. I had shouted at him twice.

“My son came in and told me what had happened. I could not see the fire at first but it was horrible as it unfolded. The fire engines arrived and then we saw the scene from our home, it just got bigger and bigger.

“I couldn’t leave the house as I was caring for my youngest son so I sent a young girl to tell the police I had information about the blaze.

“I sent a young girl out to tell police I had information about the fire and how it started. The next few hours were a blur, we had to wait for CID officers to speak to us. My son was very distressed.

“To some extent I’ve protected him from the fall out, because he’s so young he has no mobile phone or access to the internet and I turned all our TVs off so he couldn’t see the news and how big an issue it became.

“We have had fingers pointed at us, and seen nasty comments on the internet.”

She added: “I don’t want people to think he comes from a bad family, he is a loving little boy from a good home.

“He isn’t any trouble, but he was led astray. I had banned him from playing with one of the boys but he was there that day.

“He always helps me with his younger bothers and is so sorry for what happened.”