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Tearaway boy (10) is arson suspect as hotel burns down

A TEN-year-old boy under supervision at a St Vincent de Paul summer camp is suspected of setting fire to a hotel, causing serious damage.

The boy allegedly set a fire at the Pilgrim's Rest Hotel in Cappoquin, Co Waterford, at around 3pm last Wednesday when he broke away from adult supervision at Mount Melleray Scout Activity and Sport Centre, Cappoquin.

Three rooms were damaged at the hotel, and it has been forced to close throughout peak season until October.

Hotel owner David Tozer said: "There was a group of around 85 children staying in the scouts' centre, and one of them was a very wayward child who apparently has a history of being a troublemaker."



Shooting

"He had apparently threatened to torch the scouts' centre earlier and a lighter was taken off him. He was under intensive supervision by three leaders but somehow he managed to get free and did the damage."

The businessman, who has run the hotel with his wife for the past ten years, told the Herald that five fire engines were required to bring the blaze under control, and a garda was present to calm the boy down.

"The alarms went off and I could immediately tell that flames were shooting across one room. No one knows how he lit it. I believe his parents are devastated and I'm thankful that no one was injured."

Leaders from the St Vincent de Paul group have since apologised to the hotel owner, and a garda investigation is now under way.

Mr Tozer added: "We're closed and obviously devastated. The hotel is smoke damaged and burnt. We're trying to get builders to come in, and get the place cleaned, and get it free of smoke. We've cancelled loads of bookings for the peak season.

"The shed's all burnt. The windows are all burnt out. I'm devastated. The lad of ten needs help."

One source said the camp had been well supervised before the incident occurred with a supervisors to children ratio of "one to eight or one to ten."

A spokesperson for St Vincent de Paul said: "We are reviewing the incident at Mount Melleray last week. Our policy of confidentiality does not allow us to make any further comment."

hnews@herald.ie


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