Fire-hit Honiton rugby club hopes three youths responsible will apologise in person

PUBLISHED: 16:30 20 August 2018 | UPDATED: 09:05 22 August 2018

Firefighters examine the gutted container. Photo: Honiton Fire Station

Firefighters examine the gutted container. Photo: Honiton Fire Station

Archant

The secretary of Honiton Rugby Football Club is trying to take a positive note out an episode in which three ‘feral’ youths burned out one of its containers.

The interior of the container, which was destroyed by the blaze. Photo: Honiton Fire StationThe interior of the container, which was destroyed by the blaze. Photo: Honiton Fire Station

Jerry Rice said while the incident was ‘deeply upsetting’ for all associated with the club, it was not going to hold a ‘vendetta’ against the youths concerned.

A 12-year-old boy and two 14-year-old teenagers admitted setting fire to a container belonging to the club in School Lane. The devastating blaze wiped out old photos and newspaper cuttings of teams from bygone years and other equipment used for the club’s current extension.

The culprits have since been issued with youth conditional cautions and will be required to engage with youth offender services for three months to complete their conditions.

But Mr Rice said the punishment did not go far enough, adding: “We are all pretty angry that pretty feral kids have something like this - and saying ‘do not do it again’ is not going to make a difference. If you did this kind of thing years ago, you could have ended up in a borstal.

Firefighters examine the gutted container. Photo: Honiton Fire StationFirefighters examine the gutted container. Photo: Honiton Fire Station

“Nowadays, nothing seems to be happening. While I appreciate everyone makes mistakes, I think you have to take responsibility for what you have done.”

Mr Rice revealed the restorative justice team at Devon and Cornwall Police has been in touch with him - and he is keen to bring the youths into the club so they can apologise in person.

He also hopes they could look to repay to club by carrying out voluntary tasks and then joining one of the rugby teams.

Mr Rice added: “We have had children who have been slightly wayward and got them into a rugby environment, which has values of respect and teamwork - things that can put them on the straight and narrow.”

Mr Rice also hailed Honiton’s community, which rallied to support the club after details of the arson attack emerged.

He said: “I can not express enough how much people in the community pulled around to help us. They were offering all sorts of help, and to replace items lost in the fire. That’s the real positive.

“However, it does not mean that people can still get away with doing this sort of thing.

“Getting a court order which says not to do something again is not good enough. Somewhere along the line, you have to understand there are consequences for your actions.”

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