Man jailed for setting fire to skip in St Helens

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A man has been jailed for 20 weeks for setting fire to a skip in St Helens town centre.

Merseyside Police and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (MFRS) have welcomed the sentence given to John Robert Hardman, 44 years, of Kitchener Street.

He was caught on CCTV and later admitted starting the fire in the skip on Claughton Street at about 2.35am on 4 August last year.

He was also ordered to pay £250 compensation to the owner of the skip.

Following an extensive joint investigation, Hardman was charged with the offence and sentenced at Liverpool Magistrates Court on Tuesday, March 19.

Community inspector Neil Birkett said: “Not only does the starting of fires create the potential to cause very serious to people and property, responding to such incidents drains both of our emergency resources and can put members of the public at risk from other emergencies at risk by the consequent delays.

"Hardman’s prison sentence will help all the emergency services respond as quickly to emergencies as the community would rightly expect.

“This incident caused a great deal of inconvenience and financial harm to the victim, and it is fortunate that Hardman’s reckless actions did not cause anyone any injury.

“It is pleasing for all of us that Hardman, who has proved himself to be a menace to society, will now be removed from the streets for the foreseeable future. If you know of anyone involved in such criminal behaviour, tell us what you know and help us keep the streets safe from the threat of arson and criminal damage to property across Merseyside.”

Area Manager Guy Keen, head of Community Risk Management said: “Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service have a dedicated and committed team of staff who focus on the reduction of deliberate fire setting. Arson is a serious criminal offence which puts people’s lives at risk, causes damage to homes, businesses and community facilities and impacts on wildlife and the environment.

“This case demonstrated how working alongside key partners we will investigate all deliberately set fires and where appropriate assist to identify and take action against those responsible.

“This week has seen local fire crews visiting properties in areas where fires such as this have been lit in recent weeks and months.

"As part of a national Arson Reduction Awareness Campaign staff have joined up with partners from Housing Associations, Merseyside Police and Council workers to provide safety advice to members of the community.

“If fire appliances are called out to a deliberate fire such as this, then it may delay the response to other emergencies, which could endanger lives elsewhere.”

Anyone with information on suspected arson offences is asked to contact 999 if a fire is in progress, or provide any information via @MerPolCC, call 101 or @CrimestoppersUK anonymously on 0800 555 111.