Hatfield teen not guilty of M1 arson

16:14 04 April 2012

Court

Court

Archant

A GANG of teenage firebugs have been cleared of starting a blaze that shut the M1 for almost a week.

The fire in a scrapyard underneath a motorway flyover caused £4.5m worth of damage and was said to be the climax of a five-day orgy of destruction.

Hatfield lad Luke Matthews, 18, was said to have “screamed with delight” when he saw how much news coverage the fire had generated.

But Matthews, from Richmond Court, Hatfield, was found not guilty of starting the blaze in the Apex Metals scrapyard in Mill Hill, north-west London, last April 15.

Matthews was however, found guilty, along with eight others, of starting a series of fires in the days leading up to the motorway inferno.

The fire caused traffic misery on one of the busiest sporting weekends of the year, as fans travelled to London to see the FA Cup semi-final between Manchester United and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium.

Thousands of runners were also converging on the capital for the London Marathon.

Members of the gang took photos on their mobile phones of themselves posing next to the fires they had started, which they then uploaded and ‘tagged’ on Facebook.

The court heard they had sourced materials to burn from skips including old curtains and a television.

Accelerants in the form of carpet cleaner and aerosols were also used.

The jury of six men and six women took eight days to reach their verdicts following a trial at Wood Green Crown Court.

Matthew’s mother wept as the verdicts were delivered.

The arsonists had insisted they had nothing do with the M1 blaze – despite starting all the other fires.

Judge Fraser Morrison delayed sentencing while reports of the defendants were written.

He added he had not ruled out sending Matthews to prison.

Yesterday, 08:51
John Lewis Welwyn Garden City at Christmas

There are just four shopping days left to Christmas. Here are the opening hours for major stores and supermarket chains in Hatfield, Welwyn Garden City and Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, over the 2014 Christmas and New Year holiday period.

Yesterday, 08:48
Do you recognise any of Hertfordshire's Most Wanted?

Recognise any of the new faces pictured in our police Hertfordshire Most Wanted gallery?

Saturday, December 20, 2014
A witness appeal has been launched following a head-on collision on the B197. Picture: @RoadpoliceBCH via Twitter.

A witness appeal has been launched after a head-on collision this morning which has left one of the drivers with a serious leg injuries.

Saturday, December 20, 2014
Traffic is heavy on the A1(M) heading southbound.

Traffic remains heavy on the A1(M) after a multi-car crash this morning.

Most read stories

E-edition