A TENANT who torched a flat that he was renting from an NHS doctor has been jailed and branded a "danger to the public".

Jack Phillipson caused nearly £30,000 of damage after starting a fire in the third floor maisonette that he was renting in Washington.

The 27-year-old set fire to the sofa, left the oven on with the door open and turned on taps in the bathroom sink with the plug in – before leaving the scene.

CCTV footage shows how the fire had taken hold and threatened to engulf the four-storey building when emergency services arrived, to the horror of families living there.

The blaze, which happened on the evening of December 28 last year, left the flat owner - an NHS doctor who has worked throughout the Covid-19 pandemic – devastated.

Phillipson, who has a previous conviction for arson in 2017, initially claimed the fire was an accident after he threw a cushion at a candle.

But he later pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered and on Tuesday was jailed for six years at Newcastle Crown Court, with a three-year extended licence period.

Detective Constable Shaun Stokoe, of Northumbria Police, said: “There is no question that Jack Phillipson is a danger to the public after starting this fire – and then leaving the scene.

“His reckless actions could easily have resulted in numerous fatalities, with a number of families living in the four-storey building that only realised when emergency services attended.

“He is somebody who has previously started fires – so I am pleased that the severity of his offence has been recognised in this custodial term.

“I would like to thank the victim in this case, as well as all those who helped bring Phillipson to justice. In particular, I would like to applaud staff investigator Steve Little who has played an instrumental role in securing this conviction.

“He personally scoured through hours of CCTV footage to prove Phillipson’s guilt – and because of his efforts and the cooperation of the victim and everyone involved, we have now been able to take a dangerous offender off our streets.”

The court heard the owner of the flat was left devastated by the damage – estimated to be £29,000 – at an already stressful time after working during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a statement, the victim said: “I am a doctor for public health has added to the stress I am already under due to the pandemic.

“I feel so let down and upset that someone could do this to my property.”

Phillipson, of no fixed abode, also pleaded guilty to a separate charge of breaching a restraining order which had banned him from contacting his mum, after he was found at her address.