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Two teenage boys – who destroyed a bus in Sparkhill after setting it alight while people were on board – have today (Monday, 10 November) been jailed for two years each.
CCTV from the blaze, which captured the youths setting fire to the back seats on the top deck on 12 June, was issued to the media and led officers to the identity of the arsonists.
The boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to causing arson with intent to danger life at an earlier hearing at Birmingham Crown Court.
During their inquiries, officers discovered how the pair boarded the number two National Express, Maypole to Birmingham, bus at around 1.30pm. The driver challenged one of the boys because he did not have a valid ticket and the other one then had to pay for him.
The boys got off the bus on the Stratford Road and as the driver looked up through his periscope, he saw the top deck of the bus was alight. He managed to evacuate all the passengers but the bus was a write-off and £150,000 in damage had been caused.
CCTV recovered from the blaze showed the pair ripping up newspaper, spraying it with deodorant and then setting it alight. Images of just the boys were then circulated in the media and within two days, people had called the police with the boys’ names.
The pair were arrested and had their mobiles phone seized as evidence. A SIM card was missing from one of the boy’s phone and a man called Michael Kelly, aged 49, admitted to officers he had hidden it and was subsequently charged with perverting the course of justice. A 49-year-old woman charged with the same offence later had the case against her dropped.
Kelly, of Charles Road, Small Heath, was also sentenced at the same court today to six months in prison.
Footage of the moment the fire took hold of the bus has now been issued by West Midlands Police in a bid to warn other youngsters of the danger of fire and its consequences.
Detective Constable Emma Owens led the investigation and said: “We believe the motive behind the fire was that the youngsters were unhappy about being challenged over their fare.
“The boys’ reaction was way over the top and not only did their actions cause a huge amount of damage to the bus, but they also put peoples’ lives at risk.
“While we are satisfied with the sentences handed to the boys, which reflect the seriousness of the offence, it is sad to think they will now spend the remainder of their childhood in youth detention centre over one reckless and dangerous act.
“With this in mind, we hope this footage shows just how quickly fire can take hold and deters other youngsters from playing with fire."
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