York
Gabriel Wishart was set on fire in a park in York (Wiki Commons)

A ten-year-old boy has been set on fire by a gang of teenagers in a York park and had to roll in snow to extinguish the flames.

Gabriel Wishart, from Clifton, had been playing with Ashton Park on Tuesday when he was sprayed with an aerosol by a group of youths, the York Press reports.

They then set his clothes on fire and Gabriel had to fall to the floor and roll in the snow to extinguish the flames.

Peter Wishart, the child's father, told the newspaper: "The group of teenagers were setting each other on fire.

"That's when they came over to my son. They sprayed him on his leg and set it alight. He rolled in the snow.

"Thank God it didn't burn him. It could have been a lot worse - it could have caught hold of him and burnt him. It's irresponsible behaviour with potentially dangerous consequences.

"It's a form of intimidation. The park is there for younger children and I don't want them to do it again. They need to know someone has taken notice.

"My wife is horrified. Anything could have happened and we would not have been there to do anything about it."

Extremely concerning incident

North Yorkshire Police said they and are putting on extra patrols in the area to target antisocial behaviour.

Sargent Ed Noble, from Clifton Police, said: "This is an extremely concerning incident, which we are treating very seriously.

"We are working closely with local schools to both identify those responsible and to educate pupils about the dangers of the type of behaviour and the potential consequences.

"This case highlights the inherent dangers of cigarette lighters, matches and aerosols being misused. The individuals involved on this occasion can count themselves extremely lucky that nobody was harmed.

"We will continue to support the victim and his family as the investigation progresses.

"Officers are working closely with local schools to both identify those responsible and to educate pupils about the dangers of this type of behaviour. 

"I am also asking local shopkeepers not to sell cigarette lighters and accelerants such as aerosol cans to young people."

A fire service spokesman added that Gabriel was "very lucky to escape without injury" and condemned the behaviour of the teenagers.