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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 December, 2003, 16:46 GMT
Statue arson charge dropped
A statue of three of Birmingham's most famous sons of industry will be returned to the city centre on the site where the Forward statue once stood. The bronze statue of Matthew Boulton, James Watt and William Murdock has been re-gilded and will be positioned on a flood-lit plinth with public seating. The three metre tall statue was first unveiled in 1956 and depicts the three men discussing drawings. It will be sited in Centenary Square and unveiled in late summer.

The case against a 16-year-old youth accused of an arson attack on the Forward Statue in Birmingham's Centenary Square has been dropped. The sculpture was destroyed in the fire in April. The 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, appeared in Birmingham Crown Court on Wednesday accused of arson. But the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said there was insufficient evidence the boy, who was playing with matches, knew the statue would catch fire.

In a brief hearing, the prosecution said it had reviewed the case and decided to offer no evidence.

We're extremely disappointed that such a significant work as the Forward Statue has been lost to the city forever
Birmingham City Council spokeswoman
A verdict of not guilty was formally entered by Judge Colman Treacey. The CPS said in a statement the defendant was playing with matches and had no intention of setting fire to the statue. The statement said he gave no thought to the risk, which was not obvious to him, and therefore there was insufficient evidence the youth believed the statue would catch fire.

A spokeswoman from Birmingham City Council said: "We're extremely disappointed that such a significant work as the Forward Statue has been lost to the city forever.

Replacement sculpture "Regardless of the outcome of any court case or the cost of the statue, this can never be replaced." The sculpture became a landmark in the city centre after it was put up in 1991 by Birmingham City Council. It cost 250,000 to construct and depicted famous Brummies, including Joseph Chamberlain and University of Birmingham founder, Josiah Mason. The sculpture is being replaced by an existing statue of Boulton, Murdoch and Watt, which is currently being refurbished.

Teenager denies destroying statue
11 Nov 03  |  West Midlands
Monument replaces damaged statue
24 Jul 03  |  West Midlands
Teenager in court over statue 'arson'
24 Apr 03  |  West Midlands
Sculptor surveys statue damage
23 Apr 03  |  West Midlands

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