Arson trial: Latest

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The residents of Scarborough flats had a lucky escape when a fire was deliberately set in a ground floor room, a court heard.

The residents of Scarborough flats had a lucky escape when a fire was deliberately set in a ground floor room, a court heard.

Everyone, including a mother and her two young children, had moved out over the Christmas and New Year period, when the fire was started in the early hours of January 12 this year.

Gareth Stannard, 20, who has denied a charge of arson, being reckless as to whether life was endangered, claimed to have been passing the converted house in Raleigh Street when he noticed the fire.

He claimed to have gone in because a friend, who had talked about suicide, lived there, and a jury at York Crown Court heard that when the fire brigade arrived he was still there, telling them how he had come across the fire and tried to put it out.

However, the court was told on Thursday – the second day of Stannard’s trial - that the empty flat had been forcibly entered via a rear window and a sofa cushion placed on the lit rings of a cooker causing heat and smoke damage.

David Fallows, who had lived in the Raleigh Street ground floor flat, told the jury that he had moved out several days before the fire.

He said that he knew Stannard, but denied that he had ever given him the impression that he would harm himself.

Emma Cartiledge told the jury that she, her daughter and son, had moved out of their upper maisonette flat at the Raleigh Street address to spend Christmas and the New Year with family.

On Wednesday the jury heard how Stannard, of North Marine Road, had allegedly turned up at the flat of a relative stranger in Gladstone Street, armed with a fire extinguisher and claiming to have started a fire.

He is then alleged to have returned to Raleigh Street, saying that he was going to put the blaze out, before once again turning up at the flat of Aiden Wilson with soot covered hands and face.

Stannard is alleged to have told Raleigh Street residents at the scene of the fire that he feared he would be blamed because he was a “convicted arsonist”.

The trial continues.