A chef has been jailed for jailed for three and a half years after putting residents at a housing complex in danger when he started a fire following a demand for £40 for the return of his missing mobile phone.
Jason Hughes turned up at a flat at St Catherine’s Square, in Perth, with a jerrycan containing petrol and poured the fuel on to a bed and sofa before igniting it.
Occupants of the building were evacuated and firefighters extinguished the blaze but not before it completely destroyed the interior of the flat and caused £36,000 worth of damage.
Hughes, 36, later told police that he had gone to the flats to meet a man to pay him money to get his phone back but was told by a security guard that he did not want visitors.
He said he went to a garage and filled the can with fuel which another customer bought for him as he did not have the money to pay for it.
He said: “That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to get petrol. I’m going to go in there and I’m going to burn the flat down.”
Hughes told officers: “In my head, that would be payback for stealing my bank card, selling my phone, like a retribution kind of thing.”
Hughes, a prisoner in Perth, earlier admitted wilfully setting fire to items at the flat on 18 November last year resulting in it being engulfed in flames and extensively damaged and to the danger of occupants of St Catherine’s Square, when he appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh.
A judge told him: “You knew, or must have known, this was a residential block and your actions presented a danger to life.”
Lady Scott said she accepted that he was under stress at the time and that his history of struggling to cope was rooted in his difficult childhood.
The judge added: “I accept you have shown genuine remorse for your actions.” She told Hughes that he would have faced a five-year sentence but for his early guilty plea.
Advocate depute Michael Meehan said Hughes had rowed with his partner the previous night after she returned home to Glengarry Road, in Perth, and she asked him to leave. He went to the flat of an acquaintance, Alistair Maxwell, who lived in the housing complex at St Catherine’s Square before returning home and telling her that he had lost his mobile phone and bank card.