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Monday, 15 September 2014

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Life sentence for Cumbrian arsonist who 'poses danger to public'

An arsonist responsible for a terrifying campaign of fires has been jailed for life.

Arsonist John Brown photo
John Brown

Judge Peter Hughes QC had already told John Brown he was duty bound to consider imposing the sentence after he was convicted of 16 arson attacks near his Keswick home following a 10-day trial in February.

He received a life sentence, with an 18-year tariff and will not be considered for parole for nine years.

Detective Inspector Ian Harwood said after today's sentencing: "Brown preyed on businesses and peoples' homes, not only setting fires to industrial bins but also placing them so that he caused as much damage as possible to the buildings.

“Brown posed a significant risk to public safety and the prison sentence passed ensures that he is out of the community and can no longer place peoples' live and property in danger.”

Carlisle Crown Court had heard how five of the fires spread to homes, prompting a pregnant woman and her family to flee their house, and an elderly woman to be rescued from another property.

Prior to a psychiatrist's report, Judge Hughes said: “If I am satisfied that he poses a danger because of the risk of further fire setting, I am required, by law, to pass a sentence of life imprisonment.”

Brown, 48, was found guilty of 10 arson charges and six of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered. He was cleared of five alternative charges of arson with intent to endanger life.

The court heard how Brown, of Windebrowe Avenue, Keswick, had seemed to gain “a perverse thrill” from putting people’s lives at risk, even if he did not actually intend to kill anyone.

Eight of the fires, which took place between March 2011 and January last year, were started in rubbish bins outside commercial premises in the town centre, but Brown also set light to a caravan, a car and several houses.

In one blaze – on the night of August 14, 2012 – he started a fire in some cardboard, which spread to a garden shed outside the house opposite his own.

And after another fire, on November 21, 2012, Brown had been hailed a hero for rescuing an elderly neighbour. Only later did police realise he had started the fire himself.

Full story in The Cumberland News tomorrow

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