Seven years for arson spree

Jailed: Robert Bradley
Jailed: Robert Bradley

Two brothers have each been jailed for seven years after going on a drunken early-morning arson spree in Todmorden which “could have ended with fatalities”.

Robert Bradley, 26, and Steven Whitehead, 25, stole firelighters from an all-night petrol station in the town before embarking on their arson spree which included setting fire to wheelie bins, the awning of a shop and parked cars.

Bradford Crown Court heard how the drunken pair were caught on CCTV as they walked through residential areas of the town starting the fires in March last year.

Bradley’s lawyer Rachim Singh said the only explanation for the offending was that they had consumed far too much alcohol and something “just went off in their heads”.

Mr Singh accepted that it had been a determined course of conduct and that it was only through good fortune that nobody was hurt.

He said his client was grateful that no one was hurt and he wanted to apologise to all the complainants in the case.

Whitehead’s barrister Ian Howard said initially they had started some fairly insignificant fires, but things escalated after his client tried to get into a car to drive home and had then set the vehicle alight to destroy any evidence.

The court heard that in 2008 the pair had been locked up for an attack on their cousin and the Recorder of Bradford Judge Roger Thomas QC noted that Bradley had also been sent to a young offenders’ institution for seven years in 2003 for an attack in which the victim had petrol poured on him and set alight.

Bradley, of Todmorden Road, Littleborough, and Whitehead, of Conway Drive, Burnley, were both found guilty of a charge of conspiracy to commit arson following a trial earlier this year.

“Having armed yourselves then with the firelighters in the early hours of the morning you set about, together, setting a good numbers of fires over quite a period of time,” said Judge Thomas.

The judge noted that some of the fires were started in areas of terraced housing and that some of the vehicles set alight had “exploded”.

“They were parked again in areas of dense housing and as well as causing considerable monetary damage to those cars there was the risk of real harm to people and housing,” added Judge Thomas.

Speaking after the case, Detective Inspector Gary Stephenson, of Calderdale CID, said: “The sentences handed down to these two men reflect the seriousness and potential outcome that their actions could have caused. This could have ended with fatalities.

“Extensive police enquiries identified the two who were then connected forensically to the offences. Despite the overwhelming evidence both chose to go to trial.”