Teenager jailed for church arson

| August 9, 2009

A teenage arsonist who caused £350,000 damage to a Kidderminster church has been locked up for three years and nine months.

Zakery Lales-Allen smashed a door to get into Trinity Methodist Church, piled chairs round the Christmas tree and set it alight with books and letters he found, Worcester Crown Court heard yesterday.

Mr Stephen Davies, prosecuting, said the church was gutted during the attack on Decemeber 14 and only part of the damage was covered by insurance.

The minister, the Rev Mary Austin, and the congregation have embarked on a fundraising campaign.

Lales-Allen, aged 18, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to arson and to burgling a house in Washington Street, Kidderminster, on February 1 and stealing a computer game while the occupant was asleep in bed.

The fire was spotted at 11.15pm by Paul Dalloway, who lived in an adjoining flat. The church was engulfed in flames, which spread from the sanctuary, up the walls to the roof. Mr Davies said that as Lales-Allen left the church, he saw two girls and bragged: “Look what I’ve done.” He was arrested the next day. Lales-Allen had made 13 previous court appearances, several of them for criminal damage and burglary.

Mr Simon Rippon, defending, said Lales-Allen took full responsibility for what he had done and was full of genuine remorse.

He had been poorly served by his family in a troubled past and had been facing a Christmas on his own. He had been “thrill-seeking” when he carried out the house burglary. Mr Rippon added: “He is disgusted by his behaviour and I have suggested that he writes a letter to the minister which can be read out to the congregation.”

The court was told the Rev Austin would like to meet Lales-Allen, who was also anxious for a meeting to be arranged. Judge John Cavell did not accept that the arson was a drunken prank which went wrong.

There was an element of deliberation in the way the chairs had been stacked round the Christmas tree. The arson had upset the life of the church, he said. The judge imposed a sentence of two years and nine months detention for the arson and a consecutive 12 months for the burglary.



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Category: Church Security

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