5:36pm Tuesday 7th May 2013
By Bruce Unwin
A MAN set alight two cars parked in the street where he lived, in a bid to remove evidence having broken into the vehicles, a court heard.
Alcoholic Dean Joyce, 30, who even told an onlooker what he was doing in one case, was today (Tuesday May 7) jailed for two years.
Durham Crown Court heard that the first incident took place in the early hours of November 21 when a man awoke at his house in Charlotte Street, South Moor, Stanley, to discover his car, which he left parked outside his home, had been moved.
Liam O’Brien, prosecuting, said on further checking he found the Ford Galaxy on fire 20 yards down the street.
Mr O’Brien said the owner, who bought the car four months earlier to transport his children to school and other events, lost £2,160 as a result, as his policy would have risen to £3,000 if he made an insurance claim.
Several weeks later a Renault Laguna, parked outside the home of a mechanic who was to work on the car, was also set alight in Charlotte Street, on January 6.
Mr O’Brien said Joyce told his girlfriend he would try to get in to see if there was anything worth taking, before “torching it”.
While trying to break into the car he told a passer-by it would be “going up” as he had previously done the same to another vehicle.
The fire service arrived to quell the flames and police arrested Joyce, who made full admissions, telling police he set fire to the cars to remove finger print evidence.
A search of his home led to the recovery of items taken from both cars.
Mr O’Brien said it also caused the owner of the Laguna difficulties in getting to work and taking a child to school.
He has recently received a £1,800 insurance payment, but was still £870 out of pocket.
Joyce, of Charlotte Street, admitted two charges each of arson and theft.
Susan Hirst, mitigating, described Joyce as “a vulnerable man” whose alcoholism developed following the death of his grandfather, who helped to bring him up as a child.
“He was living a somewhat chaotic lifestyle at the time, drinking up to 15 litres of cider a day.
"But, the time he spent in custody over the last eight weeks, has helped him address his addiction.”
Jailing him, Recorder Bryan Cox told Joyce: “I accept you have had a difficult, somewhat unhappy life, but this has to be met by a prison sentence.
“I hope you can keep up the good work you have shown in custody and I hope you keep off the drink when you come out of prison.”
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