Teenager admits causing fiery explosion in Portishead


- Credit: Archant

A Portishead teenager has admitted setting fire to hay bales on the back of a lorry, causing an explosion and more than £200,000’s worth of damage.

Avon Fire and Rescue Sevice was called out to Redhill, near Wrington, last night (Tuesday).

Avon Fire and Rescue Sevice was called out to Redhill, near Wrington, last night (Tuesday). - Credit: Archant

Jonathan Cox, of Merlin Park, had just turned 18 when he set the straw alight in Old Mill Road back in April.

Police said at the time it was lucky no-one was killed by the fire, although Cox’s actions caused widespread damage to a lorry, car transporter, vehicles and a nearby business.

Kevin Blackmore, prosecuting, said the lorry and car transporter were parked up on April 15 by drivers, who then went to get something to eat.

When they returned however, the bales of hay had been set on fire and significant damage caused to the surrounding area.


- Credit: Archant

Mr Blackmore said the lorry and cab were burnt out causing more than £100,000 in damage, including the destroyed hay.

But the heat and flames from the burning inferno spread leading to a car transporter and its vehicles being damaged. The neighbouring T&G Woodware business also suffered £30,000 worth of damage, North Somerset Courthouse was told on Thursday.

Firefighters spent 16 hours at the scene extinguishing the fire and damping down.

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Mr Blackmore said: “There was damage to the forecourt and 100 litres of diesel flowed down into the drains, so the Environment Agency attended to stop the flow of fuel.”

Five men had been captured on CCTV around the area at the time, but Cox told police he had set fire to the hay with a lighter when questioned.

James Williams, defending, told the court that Cox’s action were reckless, but said the teenager did not intend to destroy property, despite causing ‘substantial damage’.

The Crown Prosecution Service refused to accept that claim and therefore there is likely to be a separate hearing before Cox is sentenced at Bristol Crown Court in the coming weeks.

Steven Mercer, chair of the bench, said Cox’s arson was so grave that he did not have the sentencing powers to hand the teenager a worthy punishment.

Addressing Cox, he said: “The offence is so serious that you need greater punishment than we can give.”