A vulnerable 19-year-old Bradford man, who is fascinated with fire, was behind a major mill fire in the city which caused £500,000 of damage last year, a court heard.

Hamza Nadeem went on trial at Bradford Crown Court yesterday to face a charge of arson relating to a fire at mill in Rebecca Street, which was home to a solicitor’s firm he had an alleged "grievance” against.

Nadeem, who has learning difficulties and lived in a hostel for young people, denies setting the fire, which caused £500,000 of damage to the mill.

Prosecutor Glenn Parsons told the jury that the prosecution’s case was that the defendant was guilty of an offence of arson.

He said that the fire was caused by setting some tyres alight underneath the mill building, which was home to a number of firms including solicitors YA & Co.

“This defendant may have had some sort of grievance with the solicitor - real or imagined. Imagined, because the solicitors had no knowledge of him.”

He described how a support worker at the Coates Street hostel off Manchester Road where Nadeem was living, spoke to the defendant in the early hours of the morning on December 19 last year.

“Faisal Iqbal saw this defendant in the reception at about 2am and in his words the defendant said he was ‘pissed off’ with some solicitors in Rebecca Street.

“They had taken him off their system. He told Mr Iqbal there were some tyres in the basement of the mill and he was going to set fire to them and burn their office down.”

He added that Nadeem had “something of a reputation and was something of a fantasist” so his threats did not immediately cause alarm to Mr Iqbal.

Mr Parsons showed the jury CCTV footage from the hostel showing Nadeem leaving his room at around 2.20am that morning, and footage showing him returning via the foyer shortly before 6am.

There was no footage to show him having a conversation with Mr Iqbal in the reception at around 2am however.

But, Mr Parsons added that Mr Iqbal was adamant that the conversation had taken place before Nadeem left.

Giving evidence, Mr Iqbal told the court that he had not immediately raised the alarm as Nadeem had a history of saying similar things, which were logged on his system at work.

He detailed how he had finished his shift at 8am and gone home to sleep, before waking at 4pm and then spotting a Telegraph & Argus Facebook post about a fire at a mill in Rebecca Street.

Mr Parsons said: “This was exactly what the defendant had said he was going to do. He was shocked and alarmed and naturally alerted the police.”

During police interviews Nadeem accepted that he been at the fire in Rebecca Street, that he was interested in fires and attracted to flames, but said he was not to blame for starting the fire.

Mr Parsons added that Nadeem had previously shown another support worker mobile phone footage of him posing in front of large fires.

He had also expressed a desire to become a firefighter.

The fire left the mill building badly damaged, with around 15 appliances and 80 firefighters in attendance at its height.

Fire investigations officer Ian Firth told the court in his opinion the fire had started outside the mill in a “walled storage yard” filled with tyres, and he had concluded it was a “deliberate ignition with an unspecified naked flame”.

Simeon Evans, defending, asked if the fire could have started from a discarded cigarette.

Mr Firth, who has 18 years experience as a fire investigator, said: “I would struggle to get the speed of the fire from that, and a cigarette would not set a tyre on fire.

“Natural fibres set alight by a cigarette could set a tyre on fire, but the time needed is too great for that to happen.”

A statement read out on behalf of Yasmin Akhtar, owner of YA & Co Solicitors, said she was “devastated” by the fire and had “never dealt with Hamza Nadeem as a client”.

Another statement, from support worker Tina Beach, said when she first met Nadeem he had “said he had spoken to aliens from other planets and witches” and he “fantasised about fires and had shown her six videos of him running towards fires”.

The trial continues.