A 14-year-old boy who lit a fire that caused over £12 million pounds of damage to Europe's biggest mosque wandered outside to film the chaos on his phone, a court has heard.

The blaze at Baitul Futuh mosque, Morden, was declared a ‘major incident’ in September 2015. At its height, 80 firefighters attempted to tackle the fire. 

It raged for 30 hours and gutted a third of the building.

Kingston Crown Court heard today the teenager, who cannot be named for legal reasons, sneaked into a kitchen cupboard to play with a gas barbecue lighter whilst helping prepare a meal for visiting Australian and Norwegian delegations, and a wedding.

Inside a cupboard used for storing pots of fire gels and other banqueting equipment, he ignited the lighter several times before a fire took hold, Kingston Crown Court heard.

A jury was told the teen fled just before smoke began to fill the mosque, and wandered around the perimeter, filming the fire on his phone. He failed to raise the alarm, the court heard.

James Thacker, prosecuting, said: "A large part of the mosque was destroyed, it has caused £12m worth of damage, that is without any of the items that have been lost in the fire, the archives.”

Around 100 people were evacuated while several members of the mosque, used by the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, tried in vain to tackle the fire.

Tariq Ahmed collapsed and blacked out from smoke inhalation while trying to extinguish the flames.

The defendant, from Walton-on-Thames is now 16-years-old. He denies two counts of arson with intent to endanger life and being reckless as to whether property is destroyed or damaged.

Mr Thacker said that once the defendant went into the cupboard, there was a "big orange flash" which moments later lit up the whole kitchen.

He said CCTV shows the teenager had a kitchen utensil in one hand, and a gas lighter in the other.

This video, taken in April 2016, shows the extent of the damage

Arrested the next morning, the jury heard the 14-year-old told police: "I am so very sorry".

The court heard he claimed he had set fire to kitchen roll inside the cupboard but had stamped it out immediately before putting it in a bin.

He said he had not connected the fire with the flicking of the lighter.
But the court heard that kitchen towel was not kept inside the cupboard, and there was no bin.

In a police interview, the court heard he told officers: "I cannot believe that I caused this, I am so sorry if it was me, it was an accident there was no malicious intent'.

The prosecution said: "This is not a stupid young man, he has intelligence and somebody in his position would have known that taking a fire starter, a gas lighter, out of your pocket and lighting anything or holding the flame to a combustible material means that the fire started.

"He has not told anybody, he has not raised the alarm, he has not told his family.

"He has gone around the mosque and watched as this is going on.

"He has videoed it, he has foreseen that there is a risk of endangering lives and has very much tried to close his eyes to what is obvious."

The trial continues.