Jail for arsonist who put 30 lives at risk in flats

Callum Astley.
Callum Astley.

A new father who put the lives of 30 people at risk when he was involved in torching a car has been jailed for five years.

Callum Astley, 22, of Ellesmere Road, Morecambe, and another man had drunkenly entered the Bay View complex of flats in Lancaster in September last year, intending to steal, Preston Crown Court heard.

A woman’s car was set on fire during the incident, which happened in the early hours, and smoke crept into the flats of sleeping residents after the pair fled the scene.

Judge Knowles QC said: “There were 30 or more people in their beds in the early hours of the morning in those flats in Lancaster.

“You and another had gone there on a drunken expedition to steal whatever you could.

“There were two ways smoke could have got into people’s homes and put them at risk of toxic fumes.

“People could very easily have died.”

The court heard “mercifully” a fire alarm was activated and the fire service attended and managed to rouse residents who had not already left the building.

The fire service later found smoke could have entered the properties in two ways.

Some residents suffered mild smoke inhalation, although nobody had to go to hospital.

Astley’s partner and mother watched from the public gallery as prosecuting, Roger Baldwin said: “The defendant has 26 convictions for 31 offences.”

Defending, Paul Humphries said two people had given Astley positive references.

Astley admitted a count of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered, but the court acknowledged it was not clear who had started the fire.