A teenage arsonist caused £400,000 worth of damage after setting fire to a farm building before fleeing the scene of the crime.
The 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, started the fire in a building containing 600 tonnes of bales and several pieces of farm equipment at Mount Pleasant Farm in Market Rasen on April 7, 2017.
He was handed into police by his own mother.
Witnesses claimed he set the straw inside the building on fire several times before the flames took hold, including when two children were sat on top of the bales.
But the defendant denied those accusations and said it was an accident when he appeared in Lincoln Youth Court, even though he entered a guilty plea to arson.
He claimed he set fire to straw in his hand and then dropped it when it became too hot, which then sparked the blaze.
Paul Wood, prosecuting for the CPS, said: “All of them say they saw him take out his lighter and put it to the bales – they all told him not to do that.
“He apparently laughed and went on to set fire to the bales possibly six times.
“By 4pm he had set a fire to the bales, two people were high up on the bales at the time.
“Two boys jumped off trying to put it out.
“The fire inevitably got out of control.
“The defendant immediately left on his moped and everyone else stayed.”
Mr Wood told the court that the other children who were at the scene – one as young as 12 – told the teenager to stop starting fires numerous times.
The fire destroyed the building as well as farming equipment and the straw bales, the court was told.
However, land owners were able to shepherd nearby cattle away from the blaze.
The demolition and rebuilding of the building is set to cost £200,000, but to replace the bales, equipment and have the remains of the building removed from the site, it is expected to cost £400,000.
But the defendant, who was accompanied in court by his mother, said he didn’t do it on purpose.
Rebecca Bowley, acting in his defence, said: “He still maintains he did not light many fires just the one that took hold.
“He maintains that he put the straw in his hand, it got too hot so he dropped it.”
“He panicked and left.
“He rang his mum and she thought he was joking around at first."
She added: “He is extremely disappointed with himself.”
The court heard that the teenager, who is diagnosed with ADHD and autism, was taken to the police station by his mother after telling her what happened shortly after the incident.
Due to the disagreements surrounding the evidence, a court hearing has been scheduled for September 6.
After hearing evidence from live witnesses, magistrates will decide which version of events they believe.