Breaking News: Two Hemel Hempstead teenagers sentenced to Referral Order for Arson at Apsley’s Frogmore Paper Mill.
Two 15-year-old boys from Hemel Hempstead have been given a 12-month Referral Order and ordered to pay £600 in costs each, along with a victim surcharge of £21 each, after pleading guilty to arson. The sentencing took place at St Albans Youth Court on Wednesday 22nd March.
The boys were charged with setting fire to Apsley’s Frogmore Paper Mill, causing significant damage to the site’s visitor centre. Firefighters were called to the historic site in Fourdrinier Way on Saturday 22nd January 2022 and the arson investigation subsequently launched.
As part of the Referral Order, the boys will meet with a Youth Offender Panel and participate in activities aimed at giving back to the community and preventing future offending. The maximum length of the Referral Order is 12 months.
The court heard that the fire was started by the boys using a lighter, which quickly got out of control. Officers attended the scene to assist with road closures.
The sentencing serves as a reminder of the consequences of reckless and dangerous behavior, and the importance of taking responsibility for one’s actions.
Police investigator Deborah Newsham, from the Dacorum Local Crime Unit, said: “I hope that any young person who is considering playing with fire sees this case and thinks twice.
“This incident demonstrates the consequences of reckless behaviour and although I know the boys involved never meant to cause such devastation, they had no thought for what might happen when they started the fire and how quickly the flames would spread.
“The fire, which was battled by dozens of firefighters, destroyed precious artwork and historic documents from the famous papermill, as well as causing millions of pounds worth of damage. Thankfully no one was injured in the fire.”
Elena Lewendon, Chief Executive Officer of the Apsley Paper Trail Trust, said: “We lost heritage that night that can never be replaced. Hundreds of artefacts were burnt beyond repair and the mill has now been closed for more than a year.
“It will be a long road ahead for the charity, but we won’t stop our efforts to fundraise so that we can restore and rebuild Frogmore Mill, the oldest mechanised paper mill in the world and an internationally significant heritage site. Despite suffering such a huge loss, we are determined to re-build and re-open as soon as we can and are now planning a community and environment focused new museum, offering sustainable events and activities for all ages and abilities.
“None of this would be possible without the quick response of Herts Fire and Rescue Service on the night of the fire, and the subsequent support of our local community, businesses, friends and families over the last 12 months. Special thanks to the team of police officers and detectives who worked so hard to make sure those responsible were brought to justice. We can now move on and look forward to building a bright, sustainable future for Frogmore.”