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Fleet All Saints Church fire: Daniel Finnerty sentenced

  • 12-3-2015

A teenager has been sentenced to four years' youth detention for starting a fire that gutted a 19th Century church.

The Grade II-listed All Saints Church in Fleet, Hampshire, suffered an estimated £4.5m of damage in the fire in June.

Daniel Finnerty, 17, had pleaded guilty to two arson charges at an earlier hearing at Winchester Crown Court.

In the aftermath of the fire, the Rev Mark Hayton said churchgoers were "shocked, devastated and horrified".

The court heard that on 16 June Finnerty set fire to a Bible at the church - but little damage was done.

He returned on 22 June and sprayed the shape of a cross with a deodorant can on a wall near the altar before igniting it and making off.

'Cruel blow'

The court heard he has attention deficit hyperactivity syndrome and that drink and drugs had contributed to his behaviour.

Finnerty, from Fleet, was sentenced to four years in a youth offender institution and three years' extended licence.

Following the sentencing, Sharon Douglass, senior crown prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Wessex, said the church, designed by renowned Victorian architect William Burgess, was of "huge local importance".

"By setting fire to All Saints Church, Daniel Finnerty destroyed not only the hopes of the brides who had planned to get married in this beautiful church but seriously damaged a Grade II-listed building."

Lifting a Section 39 court order, Judge Keith Cutler said for reasons of public protection Finnerty should be named publicly, describing his actions as a "cruel blow" to the town.

Work is under way to put a temporary roof on All Saints Church and plans to rebuild it are being discussed.

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2015 BBC


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