A man who set fire to a back-alley waste bin and then watched as a Peterhead bar and flat burned has appeared in court.
Alan Morrison admitted causing around £5,000 of damage when he wilfully started a fire on the town’s Broad Place on the morning of May 2.
A passerby who spotted the 55-year-old as he exited the alleyway, flames billowing from behind him, said he’d told her “I’d better not get the blame for this”.
Aberdeen Sheriff Court was told yesterday he’d set fire to a bin and some nearby furniture, with the flames then taking hold of the adjacent Baileys Lounge Bar in Peterhead.
Fiscal depute Katy Begg said: “A night-shift security worker was driving nearby and saw smoke coming from a building.
“She drove towards the smoke and saw flames coming from the alleyway on Broad Place and contacted the emergency services.
“As she awaited their arrival, she saw the accused near to the alleyway. He appeared to her to be in no way concerned about the fire.
“She spoke to him and he said: ‘I’d better not get the blame for this’.”
Fire crews arrived a short time later, with a cordon put in place and the nearby properties evacuated.
Later that day, the bar’s owner checked their CCTV, with images showing Morrison appearing to dump a large bag beside the bins, lighting a cigarette then walking away.
Ms Begg added: “At 2.28am, small pieces of debris or ash could be seen floating past the camera.”
A fire investigation found that the blaze had been sparked deliberately and Morrison was arrested.
The court heard it had caused a “large amount” of damage to the bar’s bathroom and also affected the flat above.
Morrison’s solicitor, Stuart Beveridge, said his client had two previous convictions for wilful fire-raising, one dating back to 1982.
Sheriff Graeme Napier said: “It’s not normal to be dealing with someone for these types of offences at this age.”
He deferred sentence on Morrison, whose address was listed as HMP Grampian, until next month.