Arsonist given indeterminate sentence after blaze conviction

York Crown Court
York Crown Court

A Scarborough man who deliberately started a fire in a friend’s flat has been given an indeterminate custodial sentence.

Gareth Stannard, 20, who admits to having started many fires in the past, including one for which he was locked up at the age of 14 because it endangered life, will now remain behind bars until deemed no longer a danger to the public.

Stannard, of North Marine Road, was found guilty by a jury of the latest offence of arson, being reckless as to whether life was endangered, following a trial earlier this year.

He will spend a minimum of three years and 48 days behind bars before he is considered for release after he was sentenced by The Recorder of York, Judge Stephen Ashurst.

The court was told that after starting the blaze in a ground floor flat in Raleigh Street in the early hours of January 12 this year, Stannard attempted to play “the hero” by attempting to go back inside and put out the flames, and then waiting around for the fire brigade to arrive.

In fact between starting the blaze and returning to the scene, Stannard had visited the flat of another man, armed with a fire extinguisher, and boasting about what he had done.

He also told another man to tell the police that if they asked about him he had not been there.

He then told a woman that he was a convicted arsonist and was afraid that the police would wrongly believe that he had started the fire.

Christopher Smith, prosecuting, said that the 2006 sentence of four years detention, had been past for a fire Stannard had started with petrol in a wheelie bin, damaging the front door of a family who were present in the house at the time.

Presenting the sentencing hearing at York Crown Court with reports, together with a letter from Stannard himself, Taryn Turner, mitigating, said that her client now accepted what he had done.

Adding that this acceptance would come as reassurance to the jury who heard the trial and others, Mrs Turner said that things that had happened in his past had led to a troubled childhood and adolescence for Stannard.

She said that he and his family knew that he needed help and added that a determinate custodial sentence - Stannard recognising that he was facing a substantial period behind bars for the offence – would give him a light to head towards and not “crush” him.