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Moray man who lit Buckie public toilets on fire to "keep warm" jailed for six months

By Ali Morrison

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A MORAY resident who started a fire in a public toilet has been jailed for six months.

The public toilets in Buckie.
The public toilets in Buckie.

Elgin Sheriff Court heard that on January 21 last year, the caretaker of the public toilets in Buckie heard someone inside after going to open them up at around 6.20am.

They noticed that the the toilets had not been closed overnight and could hear somebody inside.

They could also smell smoke before a male, later identified as Andrew McLaren who appeared via video link from prison in Inverness, walked out.

The caretaker contacted the police after McLaren had left.

However, when police arrived on the scene they found that the 30-year-old Forres resident had returned and spotted him exiting the facility with a lighter in his hand.

After stopping McLaren, officers found a bundle of burned toilet roll as well as ash all over the floor inside.

Procurator fiscal Karen Poke said that McLaren kept making spontaneous remarks informing the officers that he "only did it to keep warm".

Around £100 of damage was caused.

McLaren was also appearing regarding a second matter involving a breach of a non harassment order.

The Forres resident had been subject to the order, which prohibited him from making contact with his former partner, since 2022.

However, officers found him within a property in Elgin with her on January 9 this year.

When they tried to put handcuffs on him, McLaren is said to have struck one officer on the the face.

Attempts to restrain him saw another officer kicked on the head which caused bruising.

McLaren's defence solicitor Iain Maltman admitted that his client's record is "problematic".

He informed the court that McLaren started the fire because "he was cold and he wanted to warm himself".

He also said that his relationship with his former partner had been of an "on again and off again" nature but added that McLaren accepts his behaviour towards the officers had been "terrible".

He has since apologised to them directly.

Sheriff David Sutherland jailed McLaren for six months.

View our fact sheet on court reporting here

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