A TEENAGE fire-starter, who torched his neighbour's first floor flat causing £9000 worth of damage, avoided jail on Thursday.
Michael Leckie (19) set fire to a mattress and couch in the Clackmannanshire Council-owned property in The Nethergate, Alva on 5 March last year.
No-one was injured in the blaze that took place within a block of six flats.
Leckie blamed his former co-accused John Fleeting, although admitted his part in the fire-raising.
The former Alloa Academy pupil was sentenced to an 18-month Community Payback Order with 300 hours of unpaid work, at Alloa Sheriff Court.
Sheriff David Mackie said, due to the steps he had taken to sort out his life, he was spared a custodial sentence.
Leckie, who now lives in Torridon Avenue, Falkirk, pled guilty to the wilful fire-raising and also admitted a charge of attempting to spit on a police officer on 22 April 2011.
Fleeting (26), of Mar Place, Alloa, had originally been charged alongside Leckie of wilful fire-raising. The Crown later dropped its case against Fleeting.
Fiscal depute Ann McNeill explained that on 5 March last year the female tenant of the local authority flat left her home about 11am.
She went on, "About 1pm she received a telephone call from the accused saying something similar to 'If you're not back in an hour I'm setting fire to your door'. She took no notice of this thinking it was a joke.
"At 1.10pm a neighbour looked out of her house and saw the windows of the property were black and smoke was coming from the window vents. She contacted the emergency services."
Firefighters extinguished the blaze and contacted the police as they thought it had been started deliberately.
CCTV footage showed Leckie and former co-accused Fleeting "disappear upstairs and reappear downstairs shortly before smoke filled the common close".
Ms McNeill revealed that the value of the smoke damage was estimated at £9000.
Jim Savage, defending, said that the tenant of the flat had been in a relationship with Fleeting at the time of the incident.
He said that while she told police Leckie phoned her, she informed his office that she had been getting various texts and calls from both his client and Fleeting. Mr Savage claimed that it was Fleeting that threatened to burn the flat.
He added, "He (Leckie) tried to dissuade the co-accused from his actions but he got involved at a later stage."
The defence solicitor said his client was a "vulnerable individual" due to a disability and had fallen in with a bad crowd.
He went on, "He was an easy target and ended up giving money to people. They brought him into their lifestyle and he ended up drinking and taking drugs. He is no longer taking illicit substances and has stopped drinking."