Teenager who fired rocket at Liver Building during celebrations avoids jail

A man who fired a rocket at the Liver Building causing almost £30,000 worth of damage has been sentenced. Liverpool fan Matthew Egglesden walked free from court after admitting a charge of arson. The court heard how he had set off the fireworks as he believed the building has been lit up in blue in support of Everton Football Club. The incident unfolded as thousands of Liverpool supporters celebrated the club’s title win in the city centre on June 26. The 19-year-old set off two high powered rockets, the first of which veered off into the crowd where families and children were gathered, the Liverpool Echo reports. The second rocket hit the Liver Building’s first floor balcony. It set a patch of artificial grass and decking on fire and caused almost £30,000 of damage, Liverpool Crown Court heard. Egglesden, of Scarisbrick, handed himself into police the next day after his dad saw footage of the incident on the Liverpool Echo website. The court heard Egglesden and others deliberately fired rockets at the Liver Building over it being lit up in blue. Sentencing, Judge Andrew Menary QC said: “I have no doubt you did that because you and others there that night knew it was a building associated with your rival team, Everton Football Club.” The group thought the building was lit up in blue for their rival football team, when in actual fact it had been lit up in red, white and blue to mark Armed Forces Day, the court heard. “You weren’t the only one targeting the building in that way. It seems that every time a firework hit the building, the crowd cheered,” the judge added. Merseyside Police commanding officer Kim Carter said the crowd contained a mixture of families and children, young people and older adults, many of whom were enjoying the celebrations and were positive to police. However, she said “a great deal of alcohol” was being consumed and some glass bottles were thrown at officers and a firework set off towards them, so they withdrew. Egglesden was handed a suspended sentence after the court heard how he had come from a good family, had a good job and a realistic prospect of rehabilitation. The judge told him: “Such vandalism brings shame on Liverpool Football Club, it impacts on the reputation of the city worldwide and because of your involvement as well, it brings utter shame on you. “There may have been stupid supporters cheering your actions that night, but I am sure that the vast majority of Liverpool supporters, within this city and worldwide, will be appalled by your actions. “They risked tarnishing the club’s remarkable achievements this year in the Premier League.” Christopher Taylor, prosecuting, said video footage shared on social media showed Egglesden in a distinctive t-shirt firing a rocket at the building. The teenager was then confronted by his dad the following morning. “He told his father that his friend had bought the fireworks in Bootle and he had been with his friend’s uncle,” Mr Taylor said. “The defendant said he had set off fireworks but not the one that hit the building.”

(Image: PA)

He said as a family they decided to call the police to report their son. Mr Taylor said the cost of repairs carried out on the building by specialist glaziers, masoners and roofers was £29,506. Merseyside Fire and Rescue, which sent six appliances to the scene with an aerial platform and four senior officers, estimated the cost of its response to be £3,183.60. The author of a pre-sentence report noted that Egglesden, who has no previous convictions, was “genuinely remorseful” and apologised for the damage he had caused. Simon Driver, defending, suggested there was “little or no planning” in the offence, though accepted his client had brought fireworks to the scene. He said Egglesden was of “good character” and had good references from his employers. Mr Driver said he came across as a “sensible, responsible and industrious young man” and said his criminality was “out of character”. He said the pre-sentence report found he had made a series of “foolish decisions” and had shown “immaturity” in his actions. “He has become the face of all that was wrong that night and the primary focus of the glare of public attention,” Mr Driver said. He added that his client had savings of £4,000 and earned around £1,300 net a month and could pay compensation out of his own pocket. “This was a reckless act of gross stupidity and I invite the court to recognise that and draw back from the imposition of an immediate custodial sentence,” Mr Driver said. Judge Menary accepted Egglesden probably thought firing a firework would have “little impact on a large stone building” but given the size of the rocket he should have stopped to think. He said the teenager could have no complaint if he was locked up, but accepted he was remorseful and his “appalled” parents had turned him in and taken steps to punish him, while comments on social media were ” a considerable weight for you as a young man to bear”. He handed him 12 months’ detention, suspended for 18 months, with a 15-day Rehabilitation Activity Requirement. He was also ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work, to serve a three-month home curfew, from 8pm to 6am daily and to pay £3,183.60 in compensation to Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and a contribution of £3,000 towards the loss suffered by the Liver Building. Speaking after the case, Crown Advocate Christopher Taylor of CPS Mersey Cheshire said: “Matthew Egglesden admitted at an early stage that he had fired the rocket but said he hadn’t meant to cause any damage. However, to fire a powerful firework such as this at the building was almost guaranteed to cause damage. “On the night, he appears to have been reckless at to what the outcome of his actions might be. This should have been the night when the city was proud of its achievements. “Instead images went around the world of disruption, disorder and damage as a result of the celebrations of Liverpool FC’s success. “Matthew Egglesden had his part to play in that extremely negative publicity and he needs to learn from that.”
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