[A] FIRE-starter who caused hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage at a popular Cumbria visitor attraction has been jailed for 10 years.
Benjamin Taylor, 24, was working at the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway when he started blazes on three separate dates at the site within the space of four months.
The largest of the fires set by Taylor, in March, 2013, caused almost £600,000 damage to an engineers’ workshop.
His attention-seeking criminal conduct was said to have “almost destroyed” a business which is home to the famous La’al Ratty rail line.
Taylor denied starting these fires, and also two others at the Whitehaven home of his then girlfriend. He raised the alarm on every occasion, claiming in each case there was an innocent explanation.
But after a trial at Carlisle Crown Court, Taylor was convicted of five arson offences.
He was sentenced today (TUES) by Judge Peter Hughes QC.
Judge Hughes imposed an extended licence of four years, and told Taylor, of Whole House Road, Seascale, he was guilty of “bizarre and dangerous behaviour”.
He added: “It is a matter of pure good fortune that no-one was injured and lives put in peril by your activities.”
Detective Constable Paul Scougal said: “Taylor was a dangerous individual who continued to start these fires in an attempt to play the ‘hero’ when he was able to raise the alarm and report the incidents. It was an act of selfish attention seeking which caused great distress to his victims and a significant amount of damage to those who had employed him, the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway.
“Thankfully no-one was injured in these fires, but this could have been the case had Taylor not been stopped. I am glad that today justice has been served and hope that all the victims can begin to move on from the devastation he caused them.”