Tyne & Wear

Boden Hughes admits DFDS ferry arson

Boden George Hughes, right
Image caption Boden Hughes, right, said his lighter set fire to a pile of clothes

A man has admitted starting a fire on a North Sea ferry, which resulted in six people being winched to safety and 15 others injured.

Boden George Hughes admitted arson and affray on the DFDS vessel from North Shields to Amsterdam on 28 December.

But the 26-year-old, from Sunderland, denied arson with intent to endanger life at Newcastle Crown Court.

The court heard Hughes was drunk and smoking cannabis at the time and that his lighter set fire to clothes.

Judge James Goss, the Recorder of Newcastle, will sentence Hughes, of Fulwell Road, Sunderland, in September.

The ferry had 946 passengers and 127 crew on board at the time, the court was told.

'Very serious'

Hughes admitted arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered and one count of affray during the brief hearing.

Image copyright Maurice Dekker
Image caption Passenger photos showed the extent of the damage to cabins

Hughes claimed he was smoking cannabis in a bong, and the fire started when his lighter's flame set a pile of clothes ablaze.

He said he had altered his lighter so it produced a constant flame.

Judge Goss told Hughes he should expect a substantial prison term.

Ian Lawrie QC, prosecuting, said figures would be produced at the next hearing to show the losses incurred by DFDS after the fire.

He said the helicopter rescue alone cost £50,000.

Mr Lawrie said a reconstruction of the fire showed that a blaze in a cabin using the same combustible clothing took just two minutes to engulf the space.

Hughes was guilty of "spectacular recklessness", he said, adding: "He was clearly drunk, he was clearly also on drugs."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites