A MAN who set fire to a restaurant’s toilet paper dispenser has been found ‘not guilty’ of endangering life.

Keiran Diaper, of Maryland Close in Bemerton Heath, was charged with arson with recklessness as to whether life was endangered.

The 18-year-old pleaded not guilty to the charge but did plead guilty to simple arson on February 11 and appeared in Salisbury Crown Court on July 26 for the final day of his trial.

It took the jury one hour and 41 minutes to reach their verdict that Diaper was not guilty of endangering life.

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During evidence, Diaper said his friends “dared” him to set fire to the paper dispenser in the ground floor toilets of McDonald’s on July 1, 2021.

This was not disclosed during police interviews since Diaper initially denied the offence because he was “afraid of getting into trouble”.

The court heard how Diaper held his lighter against somewhere near the middle of the dispenser for “a minute or two” before it started “bubbling and going black”.

Then, he took a photograph and sent it to his friends on Snapchat before putting the “small flame” out with toilet paper.

Moments later the restaurant had to be evacuated and Winchester Street was closed between the junctions with Queen Street and Rollestone Street for more than two hours.

Salisbury Law Courts. (Image: Salisbury Journal)

Diaper’s family members gasped when the court was told he was found not guilty of the more serious indictment.

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His Honour Judge Richard Parkes KC said: “Do not assume because I am sending you away on bail that prison is not a possibility because it remains a possibility.”

He thanked jurors, adding: “You understand now how important the role of a jury is and I hope you know you have contributed something of great value here.”

The case was adjourned until Monday, September 18, for pre-sentencing and psychological reports to be produced.

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