Wyken flats arsonist jailed for four and a half years

02/04 Updated: 02/04 14:18

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Shane Willis.

A MAN who torched his rented flat following a feud with his landlord has today been jailed for four-and-a-half years.

Shane Willis poured turpentine in the lounge and bedroom of his apartment in Torcross Avenue, Wyken on May 19 last year before igniting the accelerant.

Estimates put the level of fire and smoke damage to be in the region of £250,000.

The 45-year-old denied being involved, but after a three-day trial at Coventry Crown Court a jury found him guilty.

Detective Constable Jon Rankin, said: "Willis had exchanged angry words with his landlord and clearly thought he would get back at them by damaging their property.

"But whatever the dispute, his actions were completely disproportionate in the end he was lucky not to have been facing a murder charge.

"Thankfully the flats were evacuated quickly and no-one was seriously injured. However, given that the flats are above a petrol station, and many of the neighbours were elderly or families of young children, the fire could easily have had catastrophic consequences.

"If it hadn't been for the quick reactions of the passing motorist who raised the alarm, and the subsequent speedy evacuation, there could well have been a fatality."

Willis had been in dispute with his landlord in the weeks leading up to the incident and eye-witnesses placed him at the scene shortly before the blaze including one saying he had been there just five minutes before the fire which broke out at 5.40pm.

He was arrested at his girlfriend's address in the city and later charged him with arson which recklessly endangered others' lives.

A passing motorist, who saw smoke billowing from windows, alerted fire crews and raised the alarm with nearby residents by banging on doors and shouting for them to evacuate.

An investigation confirmed two seats of the fire which caused gutted the flat and extensively damaged adjacent properties.

It's believed Willis also made a third attempt to start a fire as a bottle of oil with a rag inserted in the neck was found in a hot oven.

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