A CONVICTED racist who torched the home of three Asian men in a jealous rage was jailed for four years yesterday.
Sheriff Wyllie Robertson also imposed a two-year extended sentence on John Hoggan to “protect the public” on his release and banned him from contacting the target of his attack, Tara Singh, for eight years.
Stirling Sheriff Court heard Hoggan downed vodka and beer before draining petrol from a strimmer, pouring it into a vodka bottle and launching the night-time attack on the home of the three men who lived minutes from his own address in Alloa, Clackmannanshire.
He doused a rag in petrol, lit it and stuffed it through the letterbox.
The occupants only managed to escape with their lives because Mr Singh woke up and realised the house was filling with flames and smoke.
A jury heard that unemployed Hoggan, 53, had a grudge against the 38-year-old, known as Tony, because his former girlfriend, a vulnerable adult, had dumped him for the younger man. Hoggan threatened to kill Mr Singh, told an acquaintance he could “see a burn-out coming”, and referred to the Indian man as a “P***” and a “black b******”.
Hoggan denied the charge but a jury took less than an hour and a half to find him guilty, by majority, of endangering the men’s lives by wilful fireraising, with malice aforethought, after a four-day trial.
An aggravation to the charge, stating that Hoggan’s actions were motivated by racial prejudice, was found not proven.
After the verdict, depute fiscal Vicky Bell revealed that Hoggan had seven previous convictions, including one from 2012 for making racist threats to kill Mr Singh and calling him a “black b******” and “n***** b******”.
His other previous convictions were for theft, motoring offences, and once from 2001 for unlawful sexual intercourse with a female aged 15.
Sentencing him, Sheriff Robertson said: “Your record discloses previous animosity to Mr Singh in particular and that is a considerable aggravating factor to the charge you face today.”
During the trial, jurors heard Hoggan had talked Mr Singh’s girlfriend, Siobhan Hanlon, whom he used to date himself, into going home with him on the night of the fire, 5 January, 2013.
Miss Hanlon, 30, who revealed she had learning difficulties, said she sat drinking and smoking with Hoggan. In the early hours of the morning, Hoggan told her “I’m going to get him – I want to get him”, referring to Tony Singh.
Miss Hanlon said he went to the shed and came back with petrol, which he poured into a vodka bottle, put on gloves, took rags, and left, saying he was going to Mr Singh’s house, in nearby Earls Court, Alloa.
Her voice breaking, Miss Hanlon said: “John Hoggan said he had been down to Tony’s house and tried to light the house up, but it went wrong. He said they had tried to light the petrol, but it had gone wrong.”
Miss Hanlon said she was “praying they hadn’t actually gone through with it”, but later saw on the television news that the house had been burned.
Mr Singh told the court of his fear after waking to find the house, which he shared with Zubair Yousaf and Jahan Tayyad, filled with smoke. He said: “There was a lot of smoke, you couldn’t see anything, but you could see the flames.”