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Arsonist put lives at risk after failing to arrest him for earlier fire despite ‘clear evidence’ UK News

Arsonist Mark Elliot was free to start a life-threatening fire because he had not been arrested for starting another fire despite “clear evidence”, a court has heard.

Elliott had been surprised by CCTV lighting waste piled up against a garage shutter, causing around £2,000 in damage.

But despite clear evidence proving he was responsible for the fire on Beach Road, South Shields, last February, he has not been arrested.

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It was only after he started a second life-threatening fire at his upstairs flat in Broughton Road in the city in September that he faced justice over both fires .

His lawyer Gavin Doig told the court that Elliot had the opportunity to set off the serious flat fire because he had not been arrested for the first offense.

Damage caused by arsonist Mark Elliot to upstairs apartment
Damage caused by arsonist Mark Elliot to upstairs apartment

Mr Doig said: ‘Unfortunately there was clear evidence in the hands of the authorities and they failed to act on it which led him to commit a more serious offence.

Prosecutor Annelise Haugstad told the court that Elliot started fires in the bedroom and living room of his apartment, turned on the oven and then left early in the morning, while his downstairs neighbors were in bed.

Fortunately, the father of the family went to investigate when he heard noises upstairs and saw flames, which he began to put out with a hose after getting his wife and daughter-in-law to safety.

Emergency services, which he had called, arrived two minutes later.

Fire crews using breathing apparatus forced entry into the upstairs property and extinguished the flames.

The court heard that the downstairs neighbor feared Elliot “would try to kill him and his family”.

Miss Haugstad said police were called the day before the fire when Elliot threw a footstool through her living room window.

Damage caused by arsonist Mark Elliot to an upstairs flat in Broughton Road, South Shields
Damage caused by arsonist Mark Elliot to an upstairs flat in Broughton Road, South Shields

He told officers he had injected drugs, wanted to go to jail and was going to bed, but stayed awake and started the fire instead.

Elliot, 33, of Broughton Road, South Shields, admitted the arson and arson attacks were reckless as to whether life was in danger.

Mr Doig told the court: ‘He had the opportunity to commit these serious offenses because he was not arrested for the less serious offense, even though it was clear he had it. committed.

“His mental health was clearly deteriorating, he was asking to be sent back to jail the night before he committed the most serious offence.”

Mr Doig said Elliot had improved “immeasurably” while on remand and was a trusted prisoner with special duties and good credentials from staff.

Recorder Geraldine Kelly sentenced Elliot to a total of 45 months behind bars and said “several people were at risk” from the flat fire.

The judge said Elliot was at ‘high risk of harm to the public’ but had suffered a ‘remarkable turnaround’ in custody.

Northumbria Police have been asked to comment on the failure to arrest Elliott after the first offence.

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