A MAN has been jailed for life for deliberately causing a house fire which killed a vulnerable man who had shown him "only kindness".
Paul Nash, 30, will serve a minimum sentence of ten years for the manslaughter of Hartlepool man Andrew Simon, 44.
Passing sentence, Judge Simon Bourne-Arton, QC described Nash as a “dangerous individual” who “posed a real risk to the public".
Nick Dry, prosecuting, said Nash had been an acquaintance of Mr Simon, a father-of-three adult children.
He said Mr Simon, who had alcohol problems and mental health issues, was often taken advantage of by other alcoholics and drugs users including Nash who would use Mr Simon’s Dent Street home.
On Monday, June 10, last year Nash had briefly been in the Dent Street house at about 10pm but had an argument with two other people and was told he was not welcome.
Mr Dry said Nash returned at about 12.40am, opened the unlocked door, placed flammable material on the living room settee and set it on fire. CCTV footage later showed him outside looking into the window to make sure the flames were taking hold.
A neighbour called the emergency services shortly before 2am. Firefighters found Mr Simon on the floor in his bedroom near the door. A post-mortem later found he died from smoke inhalation and had not been drinking that night.
Mr Dry accepted that Nash, whose address was given as Holme House Prison, Stockton, had pleaded guilty, but only on the basis that he had carelessly discarded a match. He later accepted that he had deliberately started the fire.
Martin Scarborough, defending, said Nash thought no-one was in the home, although that was disputed by the judge. He said Nash was “in drink,” had shown remorse and should have credit for pleading guilty.
Addressing Nash directly, Judge Bourne-Arton said: “Mr Simon was a vulnerable individual who showed nothing but kindness to you. You are a dangerous individual and I also reach the conclusion you pose a high risk to members of the public.”
The judge had been told that Nash, who had not worked for eight years, had another conviction for threatening to “torch” his mother’s house following an argument three days after setting fire to Mr Simon’s home.
Outside the court Temporary Detective Chief Superintendent Peter McPhillips said it was “a really tragic case."