Three years for drunken arsonist

A DRUNK who set light to an Ipswich furniture shop has been jailed.

A DRUNK who set light to an Ipswich furniture shop has been jailed.

Gardener Billy Parker admitted his reckless behaviour could have potentially killed someone at the Norwich Road shop.

The 45-year-old also set light to a garden shed in Croft Street, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

When confronted by the shed's owner Parker blamed youngsters for the fire but his DNA was later found on a nearby brandy bottle.

Peter Gair prosecuting said Parker, of Marlow Road, went into the furniture store owned by Irene Fountain on February 27.

He said: “She assumed he was a customer, he sat on a blue sofa and began asking how much it was. She said as they discussed cost he was swaying, laughing and smiling and she thought he was on drugs.”

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Mr Gair said Parker was asked to leave and he was later seen standing on the opposite side of the road near the Rose and Crown Public House.

Smoke was then discovered coming from the shop and Mrs Fountain's son ran after Parker and detained him until the police arrived.

The fire caused around £5,000 of damage and the upstairs flat was smoke damaged.

Parker pleaded guilty to arson while reckless as to whether lives were endangered on February 27.

He also admitted arson on December 19 last year causing £20 damage to the shed, £50 damage to a pressure washer and £300 damage to fishing equipment.

Mr Gair said Parker had caused criminal damage in the past and had been sentenced for drink driving last year.

Simon Spence mitigating said Parker drank heavily after facing marital difficulties but had been given “a second chance” by his wife since addressing his alcohol problems while spending time on remand in custody.

Judge Neil McKittrick said: “One cannot think of anything potentially more serious than to set fire to a furniture shop.”

He said it was fortunate nobody was in the building.

Parker was jailed for a total of three years but told the 168 days he had served on remand would count towards the sentence.

On hearing the sentence, Mrs Fountain, who owns Eastwich furniture in Norwich Road, said: “I'm relieved that justice has been done and would like to thank the fire brigade and police who did an amazing job.

“It was a very frightening experience for everyone involved. There was lots of smoke damage to the shop and everything outside was destroyed.

“I can still see him on the other side of the road, laughing to himself as the shop went up.”