A teenager who set fire to part of a popular skate park before turning himself in and then helping to rebuild it has been ordered to pay £400 compensation.
Mateusz Dymarski, 19, set fire to a picnic bench which in turn caused the Inverness Skate Park gazebo to go up in flames.
Dymarski, of Laurel Avenue, Inverness, appeared for sentencing having previously pled guilty to a charge of culpably and recklessly setting fire in the early hours of October 5 2019.
Fiscal depute Karen Poke told Inverness Sheriff Court that CCTV from the morning captured Dymarski entering the gazebo and leaving it 20 minutes later.
Shortly afterwards, at around 3.30am, the cameras saw flames coming from the structure, after which the teenager could be seen running. The fire service attended and noted that a small plastic picnic bench had been set alight.
Firestarter confessed to police
The court heard later that day Dymarski had contacted police and told them he was responsible for starting the fire, claiming it was an accident caused when he set a crisp packet on fire and failed to fully put it out.
Solicitor Clare Russell, appearing for Dymarski, told the court her then 17-year-old client had voluntarily accepted full responsibility for the blaze, explaining: “He thought he had extinguished the fire.”
She added that Dymarski had apologised to the Highland Skate Parks Association and had helped to demolish and rebuild the gazebo after his offer to pay for the damage was declined.
Sheriff David Sutherland ordered the teenager, who is currently working as an apprentice painter and decorator and expecting the birth of his first child next month, to pay £400 compensation.
At the time of the fire Highland Skate Parks Association’s Natalie Murray said: “It’s disheartening. I have been involved for about seven years – before everything got built – so to see that, you feel if it’s your own.”
In an effort to return the park to its former state, founding members launched a £5,000 crowdfunding appeal and had raised more than £500 in less than 24 hours.
Mrs Murray, a mountain bike coach at the park, added: “It is a positive place, a safe place. This is only a small part of it. People come from all over the country to use it.”
The skate park opened in 2014 and was hailed as one of the best in Scotland at the time. HSPA secured money from Big Lottery, Sport Scotland and the Inverness Common Good Fund. The facility cost £455,000 and replaced an old one at the same site.