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Man admits being responsible for Kendal church fire

St George’s Church

[A] MAN has admitted being responsible for a fire which started in the vestry of a Kendal church.

Jeffrey Hayton, 52, was due to go on trial at Carlisle Crown Court having denied a charge alleging arson with intent to endanger life at St George’s Church on February 26.

But when he appeared in the dock earlier today (MON), Hayton admitted the less serious charge of arson “being reckless as to whether life would be endangered”.

The offence arises out of an incident which is said to have occurred at a time when girls were attending a dance class in another part of the Castle Street church building.

The arson charge states that Hayton damaged by fire robes belonging to the church, and was reckless as to whether property was destroyed and life endangered. It was concluded the fire-starting was “not deliberate”; was done with a candle from the church; and that Hayton appeared to have put out the blaze himself.

The incident was discovered by a vicar the following day. From the dock during today’s court hearing, Hayton insisted: “I caused an accident.”

He will be sentenced in July 3 for that offence. He will also be punished for stealing a wheelchair belonging to the church and damaging a bible at Kendal police station.

Remanding Hayton, of the town’s New Road, into custody, Judge Peter Hughes QC asked for the probation service to prepare a background report, stating: “I want them to investigate the possibility of there being a mental health treatment requirement being attached to the sentence.”

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