Firebug ‘a danger to public’

Wards at Wishaw General Hospital were evacuated due to smoke from the nearby fire.
Wards at Wishaw General Hospital were evacuated due to smoke from the nearby fire.

A youth who started a fire which forced hospital wards to be evacuated was branded a danger to the public and locked up for three years.

Christopher McAloon also caused a ‘potentially fatal’ blaze when he torched a garage while two young girls slept in a room above.

McAloon (19), of Berryhill Crescent, Netherton, was sentenced at Hamilton Sheriff Court last week.

A jury had convicted him of starting a fire which caused £10,000 worth of damage to offices at Earthmover Tyres in Netherton in May 2013.

He was also found guilty of setting rubbish alight at a house in Hillcrest Avenue, Craigneuk, in October of that year.

The court heard smoke from the blaze at the tyre depot drifted towards nearby Wishaw General Hospital, causing patients to be evacuated from two wards.

Five months later McAloon was caught on CCTV starting a fire at a garage attached to a house in Hillcrest Avenue.

Passing sentence, Sheriff Vincent Smith told the accused: “The garage was an integral part of the house and two young girls were sleeping in bedrooms above. What’s more, gas pipes and a boiler are situated above the garage too.

“Fortunately, the fire was spotted at a relatively early stage. Had it taken greater effect the consequences were potentially fatal.”

Sheriff Smith told McAloon he regarded both crimes as ‘most serious’, adding: “In my judgment, you present a danger to the public. The only way to deal with you is by a significant period of detention and a supervised release order at the end of it.”

McAloon also admitted a string of thefts committed in Motherwell and Wishaw last year while he was on bail awaiting trial for the fireraising. He stole goods worth £3,200 from various homes.

Sheriff Smith locked him up for three years and three months and said he will be supervised closely for a year when he is released.

He added: “The sentences would have been greater were it not for your age.”