A THIEF has admitted a charge of arson after a fire at a Droitwich shop which caused £30,000 of damage.

Richard Howlett, aged 35, of Cowl Street, Evesham admitted arson and theft when he appeared via videolink at Worcester Crown Court on Monday.

The arson happened in a goods cage and refrigeration unit at the Spar shop in Blake Avenue, Droitwich on June 3. As previously reported, emergency services were called to the blaze, at about 11.50pm after nearby residents spotted smoke billowing above the store.

Christopher Lester, prosecuting, said: “The fire officer concluded that the fire was started deliberately and was not accidental.”

However, Gary Harper, defending, said Howlett had said the fire was caused accidentally by a discarded cigarette butt. The case was adjourned until July 23 for further directions about whether there needs to be a trial of issue. A fire service expert is expected to assist with this.

Howlett was remanded in custody until the next hearing.