A 28-year-old man from Warrington has been jailed for seven years after deliberately starting a fire at sheltered accommodation containing 29 people and then blaming a fellow resident for the arson attack.
Christopher Delooze, of no fixed address, who was captured on CCTV threatening to burn the building to the ground, set fire to an empty television box in his room at around 10pm on Tuesday 17 December. As the fire took hold, he left the sheltered accommodation in Lovely Lane, Warrington, without telling anyone about the blaze. The premises contained a total of 29 people when he left it and the fire caused thousands of pounds worth of damage.
The fire activated a smoke alarm, and after discovering the blaze in Delooze’s room staff called 999 and evacuated the building. The fire caused extensive damage to the room before being extinguished by firefighters and the residents had to be moved to alternative accommodation for the night. A fire investigator established that the fire was started deliberately.
Delooze was subsequently arrested and charged with arson with intent to endanger life.
Despite having made threats to burn down the building to other residents and having a previous conviction for arson, Delooze denied setting the fire. He claimed that another resident, a 24-year-old man also from Warrington, was responsible for the blaze.
It took nine months for Delooze to admit to starting the fire.
He pleaded guilty to the lesser offence of arson being reckless to whether life is endangered.
This was accepted by the prosecution and Delooze was sentenced for the offence at Liverpool Crown Court on Thursday 15 October. He was jailed for seven years.
Detective Constable Rob Thorpe, who led the investigation into the arson incident on behalf of Warrington Local Policing Unit, said: “I am pleased that Christopher Delooze is behind bars facing the consequences of his actions.
“He has a previous conviction for arson and on the night of Tuesday 17 December he deliberately set fire to his room at sheltered accommodation whilst under the influence of alcohol and then fled without raising the alarm.
“There were 29 other people inside the building at the time.
“The fire caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to the room and forced the residents to be moved to alternative accommodation, but thankfully no-one was injured.
“The consequences of this incident could have been far worse.
“Delooze was captured on CCTV footage threatening to burn the building ‘to the ground’ shortly before the fire was set.
“He was also captured fleeing his room around the time that the fire was started.
“Yet Delooze refused to accept responsibility for his actions until the 11th hour, instead attempting to pin the blame on another resident.
“The strength of the evidence we gathered against Delooze ultimately led to him having little choice than to admit being the arsonist and I hope that this case deters others from committing similar offences.”
On top of his custodial sentence, Delooze was ordered to pay a £181 victim surcharge.
David Keane, police and crime commissioner for Cheshire, added: “Fire spreads quickly and can put lives as well as properties in danger.
“Thankfully no-one was injured as a result of this incident and I would like to thank the officers involved in this investigation for securing the level of evidence required to establish the identity of the arsonist and bring him to justice.”