AN ARSONIST who caused thousands of pounds’ worth of damage at five Rayleigh businesses has been jailed.
Christopher Weedon, 29, from Rayleigh, was jailed for the incident, which took place on July 4 last year.
Alongside arson, he was charged with endangering the lives of residents who were living in a flat above one of the shops.
Southend Crown Court heard that Weedon, who was on a drink and drugs binge at the time of the incident, had no clue about the offences until he woke up in hospital.
Prosecuting, Steven Molloy said: “Police and firefighters were called to The Yard Cafe after two bins were set on fire and destroyed.
“It also damaged electrics on the business and part of the kitchen lost power. The business suffered costs of £3,000 including damage and loss of earnings.
“Police discovered this was not an isolated incident and there had been a number of fires. Mr Simms Sweet Shop suffered damaging estimated at about £1,000 in the fire. The smoke detector sounded in the home above.
“There was a risk of smoke inhalation or even worse to the residents above, if the smoke detector did not sound or the fire service did not attend. We say there was a significant risk of serious physical harm.”
Other damage included a mesh skip covering at The Pink Toothbrush about £168, a £317 bin burnt at the Cancer Research, and Rayleigh Motorist Centre also had a bin set on fire.
Mitigating, Fred Batstone said that Weedon had suffered childhood trauma, and was suffering mental health issues at the time.
He said: “He clearly was not in a very good place in his life and there is immediate acceptance of wrongdoing.
“He was in hospital and had no idea of what happened, and he had overdosed. His remorse was clear and significant; he feels sick thinking about the fact he could have hurt someone.”
Sentencing Weedon, Recorder David Osborne said: “You may well have some form of mental health issues, but taking drugs on this scale cannot do anything but make things worse.
“Whilst these fires were relatively small and contained, when you behave in that fashion and are that reckless there is every chance you could kill someone in the most horrific circumstances.”
Weedon of Waltham Road, Rayleigh admitted one count of arson, being reckless as to whether life was endangered and four counts of arson.
He was jailed for 20 months.
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