Arsonist jailed for torching brother's stables and barn

Robert Schwer was jailed at Ipswich Crown Court

Robert Schwer was jailed for two years and four months at Ipswich Crown Court - Credit: Suffolk police

A Felixstowe man who set fire to stables and a barn belonging to his brother - causing £32,000 worth of damage - has been jailed by a judge. 

Robert Schwer, 56, went to his brother and sister-in-law's in Levington, near Ipswich, on October 15 last year armed with a jerry can of fuel and two lighters, Ipswich Crown Court heard. 

The blaze destroyed the stables and an attached barn as well as a tractor belonging to the couple, David Matthew, prosecuting, told the court. 

Schwer, who has a history of mental health issues, was previously employed by the couple, but the relationship had broken down, the court heard. 

He also felt aggrieved having not been invited to a recent family wedding, Mr Matthew said. 

Following the fire, police found Schwer, who had been drinking, in his car nearby and he told officers: "I did do it."

In police interview, he told officers he had taken a jerry can of fuel and two lighters, in case one of them did not work, and was 85% sure that he was going to set fire to the stables. 

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He told police he watched the blaze from nearby and had checked beforehand to see if any animals were inside. 

Schwer said watching the barn burn to the ground was like "a burden being lifted", the court heard. 

The total damage was valued at £32,000. 

In a victim impact statement, Schwer's brother said he had tried to support him through his difficulties over the years and it was a "shattering blow" to learn what he had done. 

Schwer, of Brightwell Close, Felixstowe, previously pleaded guilty to arson. 

Matthew Sorrel-Cameron, mitigating, said Schwer had made "full and frank" admissions in interview. 

He said his client had been "in and out of hospital" and had experienced issues with alcohol. 

Mr Sorel-Cameron said: "His life was spiralling downwards, and he became further embittered and angry with his family."

Sentencing Schwer on Monday, Judge Emma Peters said it was a "cruel, unnecessary and serious offence", which had caused "a great deal of anguish and upset". 

Judge Peters jailed Schwer for two years and four months, and he will serve half of his sentence in prison before being released on licence. 

The judge also handed Schwer a 10-year restraining order, banning him from attending the couple's residence.