'Callous' boys detained for Bradford arson attacks

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Michael Jefferis and Carl Philips
Image caption,
A judge told the boys they had displayed "exceptional callousness"

Two boys who trapped a young family in their burning home in a two-day arson spree have been detained indefinitely.

Michael Jefferis and Carl Philips used petrol and rags to set fire to homes and cars on the Holme Wood estate in Bradford, where they lived.

The 16-year-olds admitted charges of reckless arson and arson with intent to endanger life at Bradford Crown Court.

They were given indeterminate sentences and told they would spend a minimum of 666 days in custody.

Judge Robert Bartfield told them they had displayed "exceptional callousness" and the line between their offences and offences of attempted murder was "wafer thin".

'Courageous and brave'

The court heard the teenagers had attended a fire safety course at their high school just days before the arson attacks.

They targeted the house of a young mother and her two children on 6 February before setting fire to three more homes two nights later. Their oldest victim was an 83-year-old widower.

The mother and her children were trapped in their Heysham Drive home and had to be rescued by police and neighbours.

Det Ch Insp Mark Ridley, from West Yorkshire Police, said after the case that "had it not been for the courageous and brave actions of both police officers and members of the public I am convinced that we would have been dealing with a murder investigation".

Pc Shane Kenny, who was called to the house, said: "You could hear them screaming inside and we knew that there was more than one.

"Their hands at the window... when I was initially trying to put the window through you couldn't see anything else because the inside was black with smoke."

Pc Jonathan Kershaw said: "There was no time to wait for the fire brigade.

"We knew they were on their way but we could hear the screaming coming from inside and we had to get in there straight away.

"It was quite a scary moment."

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