TWO arsonists who carried out a drunken “catalogue of devastation” across the Fylde, and left 26 dead animals in their wake, have been locked up indefinitely.
Jordan Morgan and Karl Heaton started a fire at Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary, where 16 hens, five cats, four kittens and a rabbit perished.
Over a three-hour period on the same night, the pair also sparked blazes at the Fylde Scout Headquarters, a garage, in a Volkswagen Caravelle van and they tried to start a fire in a barn – causing damage running into tens of thousands of pounds.
Their sentences mean they will each have to serve a minimum of three years and two-and-a-half months jail before they can apply for release and will only be let out of prison when the Parole Board are satisfied they no longer pose a danger to the public.
Judge Michael Byrne who handed down the sentences at Preston Crown Court, told the defendants: “All right-thinking people are appalled at this catalogue of devastation caused to property and animals on this night, fuelled by alcohol.”
Morgan, 18, formerly of Bloomfield Road, Blackpool, and 23-year-old Heaton, of Smithy Lane, St Annes, both admitted four offences of arson, plus one of attempted arson.
The prosecution described the events in March last year as a “mindless and very dangerous” arson spree.
The fire at Easterleigh Animal Sanctuary was said to have been particularly traumatic for volunteers who found an outbuilding ablaze when they arrived to open up for the day.
A fire had been started in the hay store which quickly spread, causing around £25,000 of damage. Another £15,000 had to be spent at the site during renovation.
The blaze at the Fylde Scout Headquarters, on Heyhouses Lane – which had been closed due to a previous un-related fire – caused £40,000 of damage and £14,000 worth of equipment was affected.
The court heard the previous fire at the Scout site had been in July 2010. Both defendants were arrested over the first fire, but not charged.
The other fires that night were at a detached garage on Church Road, which caused £17,500 to £21,000, and an attempted arson at the barn where the defendants had tried to light material around a gas cylinder.
When police investigated the van fire, they found two cans of lager bearing the defendants’ DNA.
Morgan and Heaton’s defence barristers said what happened was the result of impulsive action. The two were described as being remorseful about what happened.
Judge Byrne said Morgan and Heaton had tried to blame each other for what happened but both had played an active role. He described their actions as “appalling”.
He also said it was a very serious and concerning case, especially because of their ages.
Judge Byrne added: “Our communities rightly expect such people to be punished and look to the courts for the protection from the risk of such conduct occurring again”.
Det Sgt Paddy Dowling, from Blackpool CID, said: “They both carried out large scale destruction – destruction of two of the most significant charities in the area is massive. It is down to the generosity of the public for the Scout Headquarters and the animal sanctuary that they are back on their feet.”