A 28-YEAR-OLD man who burned down a Borders bowing clubhouse causing £67,000 worth of damage as well as the loss of the club's treasured artefacts and mementoes has avoided a prison sentence at Selkirk Sheriff Court.

Sam Williams set fire to the Walkerburn Bowling Club premises on the morning of December 19 after purchasing a bottle of white spirit at 6am from a local shop.

Procurator fiscal Graham Fraser said Williams immediately telephoned the police to say he had set the building on fire.

He explained the clubhouse had just been upgraded to make the incident even more distressing for members and that all the mementoes were gone and irreplaceable as a result of the fire which destroyed the building.

Mr Fraser said: "The building was insured and that is where the £67,000 figure comes in.

"There will be costs for the site clearance which will increase the cost to the club.

"The accused bought some white spirit from a local shop just before 6am it was a 50 ml bottle.

"The lady knew him well and as it did not have the full money allowed him to have it owing 26 pence and he would pay it at a later date.

"He phoned the police and said he had done it."

Defence lawyer Sophie Russell said that Williams had made efforts in his distressed state to ensure no one was in the premises.

She added: "The intention at first was to cause harm to himself."

Ms Russell urged the sheriff to follow the recommendation in the Criminal Justice Social Work Report which was supported by the psychiatric assessment.

Williams of Park Avenue, Walkerburn, pleaded guilty on indictment to culpably and recklessly setting fire to Walkerburn Bowling Club on December 19.

Sheriff Peter Paterson said if he had been charged with wilfully (deliberately) setting fire to the clubhouse then the court would have no alternative to impose a custodial sentence.

Instead Williams was given a Community Pay Back order involving two years supervision and 200 hours unpaid work as an alternative to custody.

Sheriff Paterson told Williams: "It will be obvious to you the distress and upset your actions have caused."