Somerset arsonists sentenced for arson offenses

A number of Somerset felons have recently been convicted of serious arson. They played with fire and suffered the consequences.

A Weston-super-Mare man has set fire to his neighbour’s property in an act of ‘pure drunken revenge’. A Crewkerne arsonist has been jailed after starting a fire that put 11 families at risk.

Another man, from Yeovil, was told it was “great luck” that no one was killed following a fire he started in his own home. You can read what happened in each of these cases below.

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Man set neighbor’s property on fire in ‘pure drunken revenge’



Stephen Amesbury

An arson attack on a house in Weston-super-Mare was an act of ‘pure drunken revenge’, a court heard in July 2021. Stephen Amesbury said he downed six pints of cider and eight bottles of wine before set fire to a wheelie bin he positioned himself in front of his neighbour’s front door.

Fortunately, neighbor Nathan Williams was up while his partner and young child slept. Mr Williams heard a loud bang as the flames exploded and was able to put out the fire.

Unfortunately for Amesbury, as he turned off the CCTV trained on his neighbor’s door, his other cameras provided damning evidence of his collecting accelerator and moving the trash can. Amesbury, 58, of Downside Road, was jailed for 21 months.

Judge Mark Horton told Amesbury: “Every court imposes a deterrent sentence, particularly when the starting of this fire was quite overtly deliberate. It was planned, deliberate with the use of an accelerant.

“He intended to cause serious damage or, at the very least, put the people inside in extreme fear for their safety. It was an act of pure drunken revenge.”

Crewkerne arsonist jailed for flat fire



Tim Hawkins
Tim Hawkins

An arsonist ignited a blaze that put 11 families at risk – two weeks after he was released from a psychiatric hospital. Tim Hawkins, from Crewkerne, spent seven years in Langdon Hospital in Devon after being convicted under the Mental Health Act in 2014 for attempting to burn down a church in Somerset.

He was on a restricted hospital order, meaning he could only be released with the approval of Justice Minister Dominic Raab or officials acting on his behalf. Hawkins was released on the recommendation of psychiatrists in October 2021 and moved from Dawlish Hospital to a flat in Exeter.

He quit taking medication and spent his £3,000 savings on heavy cocaine use for two weeks before deliberately starting a fire in his living room on November 11. He stacked chairs on a sofa, covered them with a blanket and used spray before settling down. light at the apartment and running in the street.

A young family lived in the apartment above and ten others lived in the other apartments of the communal building. A passerby saw smoke and flames and called the fire department.

The building was evacuated with no one injured, and Hawkins was arrested after returning to the scene. He told a fire officer he wanted to burn the place down so he could return to the hospital.

He mocked the police for taking so long to arrive, saying in an interview, “I could have burnt down ten more places before you got here.” The fire caused £35,000 in damage and other families were kept away from their homes until the building was secured.

Hawkins, 29, from Birds Close, Crewkerne, admitted arson, unconcerned whether life was in danger. He was jailed for three years and four months by Mr Recorder Neil Millard at Exeter Crown Court in February 2022.

The man who set his own house on fire was ‘lucky not to kill anyone’

A man who set his own house on fire in Yeovil was told it was ‘a great chance’ no one was killed as a result of his actions when he appeared in court. The 34-year-old, who suffered from serious mental health issues, had to be rescued from the ground floor flat by a friend after it was set on fire, along with neighbors who were home at the time. that time.

Appearing at Taunton Crown Court in February 2020, the defendant – who Somerset Live decided not to name for legal reasons – pleaded guilty to recklessly committing arson in the home on November 11, 2019. He was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years and given an order 20 day rehabilitation. He was also banned from entering Yeovil for 12 months.

Prosecuting Christine Hart said the defendant called a friend to tell him he had barricaded himself in the apartment and planned to set it on fire. She immediately went to the address, but soon after he filled a children’s play tunnel with several toys and started a fire.

His friend immediately called emergency services but defied their advice to leave the property and returned to the apartment to rescue the accused. The 34-year-old man was later arrested and taken into custody.

In defence, Harry Ahuja argued that the defendant’s pre-existing battle with mental health issues, combined with the extreme difficulties he was facing in his personal life at the time of the incident, meant he should be spared the prison. Conviction, Recorder Judge Philip Mott QC said: “I have to convict you of an offense of recklessly arson, which constituted a real danger, as you now understand.

“Although at the time when this thought was furthest from your mind, it is a great chance, both for you and for others, that there was not more damage and that lives were not lost. Any arson offense is a serious concern and the first question must be to establish why it happened and what are the risks of it happening again.”

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