London

M1 fire: Teens cleared of north London scrapyard arson

Six teenagers have been cleared of carrying out an arson attack in north London that caused the closure of part of the M1 motorway for several days.

The fire at a Mill Hill scrapyard in April 2011 closed a 6.5-mile stretch of the road and caused £4.5m of damage.

At Wood Green Crown Court, the teenagers all denied conspiring to destroy the scrapyard by fire.

But they were among nine teenagers found guilty of involvement in fires close to the M1 in Barnet.

The court was told they photographed themselves next to the fires using their mobile phones and uploaded the pictures on to Facebook.

Old curtains

The teenagers sourced materials to burn from skips, including old curtains and a television. Carpet cleaner and aerosols were used as accelerants.

Image caption The fire at the scrapyard led to the closure of a 6.5-mile stretch of the M1 for days

Luke Matthews, 18, of Richmond Court, Hatfield, Johno Johnson, 18, of Millfield Road, Edgware, and Josh Rylan Lambe, 18, of Harcourt Avenue, Edgware, were acquitted of the arson attack that caused the M1 fire on 15 April.

The others acquitted of the M1 fire were three teenagers, aged 15, 16 and 17, who cannot be identified because of their ages.

However, nine teenagers were convicted of more than 20 counts of plotting to commit arson not far from the motorway, at Edgwarebury Park and the Moat Mount parkland, last April.

  • Luke Matthews pleaded guilty to four counts of conspiracy to commit arson.
  • Johno Johnson pleaded guilty to four counts of conspiracy to commit arson.
  • A 17-year-old boy from Edgware pleaded guilty to four counts of conspiracy to commit arson.
  • A 15-year-old boy from Harrow was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to commit arson.
  • A 16-year old boy from Edgware was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit arson. He previously pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit arson.
  • Josh Rylan Lambe was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit arson. He pleaded guilty to a second count of conspiracy to commit arson.
  • Damien John McQueen, 18, of Harcourt Avenue, Edgware, was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to commit arson.
  • Hannah Louise Parker, 18, of Meadfield, Edgware, was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to commit arson.
  • Juan Durandt, 18, of Meadfield, Edgware was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to commit arson.

Scotland Yard Supt Simon Causer said: "These youths showed complete disregard for the safety of people living in Barnet, as well as putting the lives of those in the emergency services at risk.

"I believe that I am not alone in failing to understand what drove them to commit and boast about these despicable acts of vandalism, and hope that these verdicts will discourage anyone else from making such irresponsible decisions."

A 10th teenager, aged 15, had charges against him dropped at the start of the trial.

Eight of the youths will be sentenced on 4 May. The 15-year-old boy, from Harrow, north west London, will be sentenced on 9 May.

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