A young firebug has escaped jail for the “crass immaturity” which led him to cause a five-figure blaze at derelict Strathmartine Hospital.
In the immediate aftermath of a local councillor issuing a fresh call for beefed up security at the eyesore site amidst fears of a tragedy following yet another recent fire at the one-time asylum, Aaron Beveridge was given a Community Payback Order including 200 hours unpaid work for his actions in the summer of 2013.
Beveridge was 17 when he torched one of the buildings at the site, leading to a demolition bill of £15,000 for the wrecked property after police using a sniffer dog caught him near the disused facility with balaclava, gloves and a lighter while fire crews completed the operation to extinguish the blaze.
Beveridge, of Teviotdale Avenue in Dundee admitted an indictment alleging wilful fireraising at the hospital and after hearing that the accused had been in no trouble since the incident, a sheriff said the lengthy delay in the matter coming before the court may have saved him from a spell behind bars.
Depute fiscal Kirsten Thompson said fire control received a message about an incident at the hospital on June 13 and found a single storey building on the eastern side of the site well alight.
Police were called after a senior fire officer formed the view that the fire had been started deliberately and a tracker dog picked up a scent at the scene.
Beveridge was subsequently discovered by officers in Craigmill Road, smelling strongly of smoke and with a lighter in his pocket, but no other smoking materials, added the fiscal.
When questioned, he told police: “I know I did it like, it was stupid.”
Solicitor David Duncan said that although the cost of re-instating the building had been put at £8,000/9,000, it was a condemned part of the site and was not going to be reconstructed.
“I have always said to him that if this offence was carried out more recently the he would have been going to prison.
“His age when he committed this offence was an age when individuals often enter the criminal justice system and stay in it.
“That has not been the case with Mr Beveridge, quite the opposite – it has not been a stepping stone to other matters.
“It was an act of crass stupidity and irresponsibility,” said Mr Duncan.
Sheriff Pino Di Emidio told Beveridge: “It is perhaps by your good fortune that there has been a delay in this serious case being brought because that has allowed you to demonstrate you can stay out of trouble.
“You are now significantly older and that convinces me I can deal with this matter other than by way of imprisonment.”
Beveridge will also take part in the Venture Trust residential programme as part of the year-long CPO.