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Teenager sentenced for carnival blaze

An Austrian teenager has been convicted of manslaughter charges after he fitted a heat cannon to a float that turned three of his pals who were wearing colourful pantomime costumes into human fireballs.

Eyewitnesses who saw the carnival float as it paraded along the street at Mühlau in Tirol described how the burning float participants had let lept from the lorry when their costumes caught fire and they had been extinguished by people in the crowd.

Two of the three suffered extensive burns that was so severe that one man – a 37-year-old father of two – died three weeks later in the intensive care ward at a local hospital.

Schroeder has now appeared in court in Innsbruck charged with one count of manslaughter and two of GBH for failing to put up a security zone around the heat cannon that had been installed to keep the revellers warm.

He faced up to 3 years in jail but in the end was given a six-month conditional sentence.

He told the court that he had been helping to fit out the float and because the children on it and there had been a sudden cold spell he offered to allow them to use the heat cannon from his workshop.

Together with others they had installed it but he had not been allowed to stay on the float because he was not wearing a costume – and admitted that he had not considered that the device could start a fire.

The teenager's lawyer has said they will appeal the conviction – which means that the teenager will have responsibility for financial compensation for the dead man's widow and two children. He said that it had not been proved that the blaze had not been started by a cigarette.

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