AN arsonist who torched two cars on a Carlisle residential street in the middle of the night has been spared immediate prison.
An explosion was heard as 21-year-old Ryan Thompson set fire to a Renault Clio and a Seat Ibiza on Buchanan Road in Currock on February 10 last year, and householders were evacuated by fast-responding police.
Just before the incident, Thompson visited a nearby Esso garage, where he was known by staff, filling a jerry can with £7 worth of fuel which he used in the crime before watching as the vehicles burned. A quick-thinking police officer obtained CCTV stills showing bag-carrying Thompson, whose DNA was found on a burned glove nearby.
Wayne Jackson, prosecuting, told Carlisle Crown Court: “A fire officer says had they not been able to get to the scene so quickly, the fire would have spread.”
At the time, Thompson was struggling to come to terms with the breakdown of his relationship with Danielle Beattie, and that her new partner was his best friend.
Miss Beattie’s mother, Teresa – the Clio’s owner – was left “traumatised” by the incident. She and the Seat owner had not been paid the full value of their vehicles by insurers and were left with inflated premiums.
Thompson, a young man without previous convictions, had been suffering from an adjustment disorder at the time. He emitted arson being reckless as to whether life is endangered.
After considering background reports, hearing strong personal mitigation and concluding there was a realistic prospect of rehabilitation, Recorder Eric Lamb suspended a 20-month prison sentence for two years.
Thompson, of Durranhill Road, Carlisle, must also complete a rehabilitation requirement.
Recorder Lamb said: “Quite what was going through your mind on that night is something you yourself struggle to explain.”