Boys set alight 'in grudge'

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A man with a grudge against his former school launched a flame- thrower attack at pupils sitting A levels in the assembly hall, a court was told yesterday.

Garnett Stephen Bell, 46, an unemployed electronics expert from east Belfast, blamed Sullivan Upper School at Holywood, Co Down, for "inappropriate and inadequate career advice", Ronald Appleton QC, for the prosecution, told Antrim Crown Court. It heard Mr Bell "planned the attack like a military operation". He fired a sheet of flame, using an improvised fire extinguisher.

He denies nine charges, three of attempting to murder Darren Crawford, Adam Aston and Stephen Crossland, all 18; three of causing them grievous bodily harm with intent; and three of arson - two at the school and the other at his brother's home, which was burnt to the ground a few hours after the school attack on 17 June last year.

Mr Appleton said the defence accepted Mr Bell used the flamethrower - the issue was whether he intended to kill. He sprayed the front row, then turned the device on a second row of boys, but the nozzle fell off, extinguishing the flames. He then fled.

The case continues today.