Man denies starting fire

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A MAN has denied starting a house fire that left a boy in hospital.

Paul Maynard, of Draycote Road, Catherington, appeared at Portsmouth Crown Court yesterday in connection with a fire in Draycote Road.

The 32-year-old pleaded not guilty to a charge of arson with intent to endanger life.

Judge Richard Price remanded him in custody until June, when he is due to stand trial.

As previously reported in The News, firefighters were called to the blaze at the terraced house at about 4.40am on January 23.

Eighteen firefighters tackled the fire that destroyed the lounge and stairwell.

Around 80 per cent of the house was damaged by smoke.

A 16-year-old boy was taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, after suffering from smoke inhalation.

His condition was not thought to be serious at first but it deteriorated after he arrived at the hospital.

Maynard’s trial is expected to last a week.