Scarborough man goes on trial accused of arson

After allegedly starting a fire in a Scarborough flat a man is said to have turned up at a the home of a relative stranger, armed with a fire extinguisher, and admitted what he had done.

A Jury at York Crown Court heard on Wednesday that Gareth Stannard allegedly also showed a woman the fire and told her that he would be blamed because of a previous conviction for a similar matter.

The blaze at a ground floor flat in Raleigh Street was said by Christopher Smith, prosecuting, to have been started in the early hours of January 12 this year by a sofa cushion being placed on a lit cooker hob.

Stannard, 20, of North Marine Road, has denied a charge of arson, being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

Mr Smith has alleged that after setting the fire a man, believed to be Stannard, turned up at the Gladstone Street flat of Aiden Wilson, someone who he hardly knew, but who he went on to tell he had started a fire.

The man had with him a fire extinguisher, but Mr Wilson told the jury that he did not believe the story.

Eventually the man then left, saying that he ought to go and put the fire out, returning half-an-hour later with his face and hands covered in soot, said Mr Wilson.

Another resident of the Gladstone flats was allegedly told by the same man: “If the police come I haven’t been here.”

Amber Marano, a resident of Raleigh Street, came across a man allegedly fitting Stannard’s description in the street, he telling her that there was a fire and that he needed help.

She went with him to the flats, seeing and smelling smoke coming from the ground floor flat and telling her son to call for the emergency services.

It was then that the man told her: “I’m a convicted arsonist and they’re going to think I’ve done it”.

He added that he had been round to the flats because his friend, who lived there, had been threatening to commit suicide.

The trial continues.