Firestarter’s re­venge on so­cial work

Wishaw Press - - ROSS THE TOAST OF TEAM UK - Mike Mc­quaid

A se­rial firestarter torched a so­cial work car in Wishaw after staff re­fused to give him money.

Hamil­ton Sher­iff Court heard the flames spread to a ven­ti­la­tor unit but was brought un­der con­trol be­fore it could threaten a block of 20 flats.

Alan Beck ad­mit­ted set­ting alight and de­stroy­ing a £10,000 Toy­ota Yaris in Main Street, Wishaw, in the early hours of Fe­bru­ary 10 this year.

Beck (38), de­scribed as a pris­oner at Ad­diewell, also ad­mit­ted pos­ses­sion of a knife in Cale­do­nian Road, Wishaw, on May 5.

The court heard he was jailed for 45 months in 2009 for set­ting fire to a num­ber of homes in Cum­ber­nauld.

Then i n 2012 he ap­peared at the High Court in Ed­in­burgh where he ad­mit­ted that, while out on early re­lease, he started four fires in the same town, in­clud­ing one at Ran­noch Lodge Nurs­ing Home. He set fire to cur­tains in the care home which led to 43 el­derly peo­ple be­ing re­moved to safety. Luck­ily, there were no ca­su­al­ties.

Beck was sent to prison for four and a half years on that oc­ca­sion.

Re­fer­ring to the lat­est act of fir­erais­ing, Vish Kathuria, pros­e­cut­ing, said Beck was seen on a pub’s CCTV to be un­der the in­flu­ence of al­co­hol shortly be­fore an­other cam­era cap­tured him go­ing into the car p a rk be­hind Nor t h La­nark­shire Coun­cil’s so­cial work of­fices and ad­ja­cent flats.

Mr Kathuria told the court: “He was ob­served to walk in the di­rec­tion of a bin shed.

“Slightly out of shot was a Toy­ota Yaris and a few min­utes later, after Beck left the bin shed, smoke could be seen.

“Fire­fight­ers were called and they found the car on fire. Pa­per and card­board had been taken from the bins, stuffed un­der the ve­hi­cle and set alight.

“The flames had spread to a ven­ti­la­tion unit above the ve­hi­cle, at­tached to the wall of the so­cial work of­fices. How­ever, the blaze was brought un­der con­trol be­fore it could spread to the build­ing.

“A so­cial worker iden­ti­fied Beck from the CCTV and ex­plained he was a ser­vice user who had re­lied on the depart­ment for fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance.

“He had at­tended at the of­fices a week be­fore this in­ci­dent and had been re­fused money.

“That had an­gered him and might have been his mo­ti­va­tion for this of­fence.”

Beck was de­tained in re­la­tion to the fire but was then re­leased and a few months later was caught, again on CCTV, stag­ger­ing near Wishaw town cen­tre in the early hours with a kitchen knife that had a nine-inch blade.

De­fence agent Nicky Mat­teo sug­gested Beck could ben­e­fit from psy­chi­atric help.

Sher­iff Daniel Kelly de­ferred un­til Oc­to­ber 22 and Beck was again re­manded in cus­tody. New­mains stu­dent Ross Me­gahy was one of two Scots who picked up a medal forteam UK at the Euroskills Fi­nals.

Held in Bu­dapest and at­tended by more than 100,000 spec­ta­tors, 21-year-old Ross fended off com­pe­ti­tion from Europe’s bright­est to bag bronze in the me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing CAD com­pe­ti­tion.

Ross, who qual­i­fied at New Col­lege La­nark­shire and is now study­ing for a de­gree in prod­uct de­sign and in­no­va­tion at Strath­clyde Univer­sity, was de­lighted to bring home the award for him­self and his coun­try.

Ross said:“this is an amaz­ing mo­ment in my life – I have worked day and night to reach this level.

“I couldn’t be­lieve it when they called my name. I was jump­ing with joy.

“This op­por­tu­nity from­world­skills UK will change my life.

“I am so very grate­ful to them and ev­ery­one that’s helped me over the months and years.”

To se­cure a place in­team UK, Ross was among the learn­ers and ap­pren­tices who went through an ex­haus­tive se­lec­tion process, tak­ing part in the pres­ti­gious­world­skills UK na­tional com­pe­ti­tions, the fi­nals of which were held at­world­skills UK LIVE.

Dr Neil Bent­ley, CEO of­world­skills UK, praised Ross and the rest of the UK medal win­ners for their amaz­ing work ethic and achieve­ment.

Mr Bent­ley said:“these bril­liant young peo­ple – train­ing and pre­par­ing them to be among the very best across Europe – are the UK’S new gen­er­a­tion of high-fly­ers.

“Team mem­bers have made huge sac­ri­fices in their lives train­ing for years to reach the re­quired stan­dard – work­ing hun­dreds of ex­tra hours in their spare time for­go­ing hol­i­days and nights out in the process.”

De­lighted Ross Me­gahy cel­e­brates his bronze medal

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