Page last updated at 12:50 GMT, Friday, 11 July 2008 13:50 UK

Firework blaze pair spared jail

House fire caused by fireworks
A family of four escaped unhurt after Matthews and Colwell started the fire

Two teenagers who set fire to a home in Oxford while a family of four slept upstairs have been spared a jail term.

Jamie Matthews, 19 and Lewis Colwell, 18, started the fire by pushing a firework through the letter box of the property in Ramsay Road last October.

Matthews admitted reckless arson, while Colwell was found guilty of the charge last month. They were found not guilty of arson with intent to endanger life.

The Judge, at Reading Crown Court, gave the pair unpaid community service.

Colwell, of Downside Road, Headington, must carry out 300 hours while Matthews, of Manor Farm Road, Horspath, must carry out 240 hours.

They were also placed under a night-time curfew for six months and ordered to each pay 5,000 to the victims.

The court heard how the sleeping family escaped the fire unhurt after being woken by a smoke alarm, but their home was severely damaged.

There were cries of relief from the public gallery as Matthews and Colwell were told they would not receive a custodial sentence.

Judge MacIntyre said he would spare them from a jail term because they had not previously been in trouble with police.

Charges in 'firework' house fire
12 Nov 07 |  Oxfordshire

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