A Featherston teenager has pleaded guilty to attempting to set fire to the town's petrol station.

James Bryce Murphy, 18, appeared in Masterton District Court yesterday charged with attempted arson, as well as shoplifting, burglary and unlawfully being in an enclosed yard.

Through his lawyer, Susie Barnes, Murphy pleaded guilty to the attempted arson charge, and was remanded without plea for advice on the other charges.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Tom Andrews said Murphy had been at Adamsons Service station at 2.11am on Saturday, January 9.


He took copies of the Dominon Post that had been piled for delivery, and made a line of them leading up to one of the petrol pumps.

Murphy then tried to light the newspapers but they were lying flat and did not ignite.

He then took the petrol hose from the pump and poured some petrol onto the newspapers, before lighting the petrol and running away.

The fire was seen by the Featherston Community Patrol and put out, before it caught hold of the pump.

The service station is the longtime workplace of Featherston fire chief Colin McKenna, who said they were not called out.

He said the community patrol just "jumped on it" to put out the fire.

Murphy's actions were caught on the station's CCTV cameras.

"We've got a pretty good video of it," said Mr McKenna.

Judge Barbara Morris said it was "clearly a grave offence".

"This could have been a disaster."

She told Murphy he was only being granted bail because of his age, but "your age will not save you if you breach your bail".

Murphy has been remanded on bail, with curfew, until sentencing on April 14, with reports ordered including psychological and drug and alcohol.

He will also reappear for plea on the other charges on March 24.