Teenager remanded over shop blaze

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The Independent Online

A man has been remanded in custody charged with causing £319,000 of damage to stock at a clothing store which was set on fire during rioting in Manchester city centre.

Dane Williamson, 18, of Broughton Road, Salford, is accused of criminal damage and recklessly endangering life over the blaze at Miss Selfridge in Market Street.

An application for bail was refused at Manchester Magistrates' Court as the defendant claimed he was the victim of mistaken identity.

Gareth Brandon, prosecuting, told the court that Williamson was charged with a serious offence which carried a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and would have to be dealt with at Crown Court.

If convicted it would attract a "substantial" sentence, he added.

He said: "This was an opportunistic offence in the context of the widespread disorder at the time.

"The incident has been widely reported in the Press. It was damage by fire, an offence of arson against Miss Selfridge in Market Street.

"Quite a lot of people have seen the footage on YouTube which has been repeated in national newspapers.

"An item of clothing on display was set on fire, the windows having already been smashed and the shutters down."

The prosecutor said that, according to Miss Selfridge, the fire-damaged stock was now unsaleable.

The damage costs relate solely to the clothing and not the store itself.

Williamson, who was wearing a navy blue jumper and black tracksuit bottoms, was later arrested after the footage was viewed by police and it was the Crown's case that he was the person who had committed the offence, he said.

When interviewed, Williamson admitted he had been in the vicinity earlier that day but had left by the time of the incident and was on a bus on the way to his brother's house.

Williamson's solicitor said it was "a case of mistaken identity".

He said he was aware the police were under "enormous pressure" to deal with the case expediently but they had got the wrong man.

Williamson was remanded in custody to appear at Manchester Crown Crown for a preliminary hearing on August 18.