Police welcome prison sentence on Shrewsbury arsonist

Police who investigated a spate of fires on a Shrewsbury housing estate, today welcomed the prison sentence given to a 19-year-old arsonist.

Matthew Robin Gill was jailed for four years at Stafford Crown Court after admitting arson with intent to endanger life at a home in Reedham Road, Herongate on December 1 last year.

He further admitted giving a false alarm of a fire to Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service on October 21, receiving a three month sentence to run concurrently Gill was also given a further three months, running concurrently, for breaching a community order.

Detective Sergeant Andy Chatting, one of the officers who led the police investigation said the sentence was appropriate for such a serious offence where lives had been put a risk.

"The offence in Reedham Road was particularly appalling as Gill deliberately set fire to an occupied property containing a young couple and their baby boy."

Today's prison sentence was also welcomed by Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service who worked in partnership with the police investigating a series of arson incidents on the Herongate estate during the autumn of 2010.

DS Chatting said the fires occurred in and around the Herongate area of Shrewsbury. "What started out as fires involving wheelie bins, progressed to material being set alight in and around empty properties.

"Herongate is a quiet, low-crime area and the outbreak of these incidents caused real alarm to residents who were understandably fearful of what was going on.

"Local Policing officers engaged with the public offering advice and reassurance. Police officers worked very closely with the fire service who investigated the nature of the fires, assisting the police investigation."

He said specific response plans were drawn up to deal with reports of fire while police patrols were increased on the estate and the surrounding areas.

The investigation was managed by CID officers and in early December Matthew Gill, who lived on the Herongate estate, was arrested and charged with two offences relating to the fires. He was remanded in custody, pleading guilty to both offences at an earlier court appearance.

DS Chatting said: "I hope today's outcome in court will reassure the residents who were genuinely in fear for the safety of themselves and their homes. It was an extremely difficult case which took the combined working of CID, Local Policing officers and Response teams working jointly with the fire service and with support from the local community, to bring the matter to a successful conclusion."

John Das Gupta, Head of Fire Prevention, at Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service said fire engines toured the estate to reassure Herongate residents and firefighters gave out fire safety advice to residents.

"This case proves how important it is to have a working smoke alarm which was responsible for alerting residents to one of the fires. We will not tolerate people using fire as a weapon," added Mr Das Gupta, who urged anyone wanting fire safety advice to call the fire prevention department on 01743 260 200.

24th June, 2011