Tuesday 20 March 2018

Teenagers in court over motorway inferno

Jennifer Cockerell

SIX teenagers went on trial today accused of causing a fire that closed the M1 motorway and caused €5.41 million-worth of damage.

The massive blaze at a scrapyard under an elevated section of the motorway caused transport chaos for days last April.

The six defendants are among a total of 10 teenagers charged with a "spree" of arson attacks across north London, over a five-day period, prosecutor James Brown said as he opened the Crown's case.

He said a "core group" of five of the teenagers - one of whom was aged just 14 at the time - were involved in the arsons.

Mr Brown told jurors: "I dare say that you wouldn't have heard of most of these offences, but you may well have heard of one.

"The offence that took place on April 15 in the early hours of the morning is an offence which became notorious.

"Notorious because, as a result of what these defendants did - setting fire to a scrapyard underneath the M1 motorway - there was an enormous conflagration of flames to such an extent that the fire spread from the initial location of the scrapyard to another that was right underneath the motorway.

"It caused such an intensive fire that it actually damaged the motorway above.

"As a result the motorway was closed for nearly a week."

Luke Matthews, 18, of Hatfield, Herts, Johno Johnson, 18, of Tyrell Way, West Hendon, Josh Lambe, 18, of Harcourt Avenue, Edgware, a 17-year-old and two 15-year-olds, who cannot be named due to their ages, all deny a charge of conspiring to destroy by fire the scrapyard, intending to destroy such property or being reckless as to whether such property would be destroyed.

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