A  teenager admitted starting a fire in the crypt of a disused church.

Two fire crews were called to St Peter's Church on Grove Road, Portland when smoke was seen billowing from the basement at around 5.20 pm on Monday, October 2, 2023.

The teenager, aged 17, who cannot be named for legal reasons, appeared before Weymouth Youth Court on Wednesday, January 24 and pleaded guilty to a charge of arson.

The court heard the fire, which was started in the crypt of the church, caused smoke damage to the walls of the church basement and damage was caused to a door and floorboards in the church as firefighters tried to reduce the risk of smoke leading to a fire.

Tara Olney for the Crown Prosecution Service said: "The fire started in the crypt of the church.

"The church is disused and youngsters do tend to go there to smoke or drink.

"The fire service believes it was deliberate as there was no sign of electrical fault.

"Rubbish was burned in the crypt of the church.

"The fire caused minimal damage, charred the walls of the basement and damage was caused to the door and floorboard

"The teenager thought they had put the fire out."

The Chair of the Magistrates bench, Mrs Foster, said: "Considering arson is a very serious crime, it does not seem as serious as the name may apply."

The defendant's father was ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £26 and £85 in court costs.