Arsonist set fire to pub with ex inside

JAILED: James Dewhirst.
JAILED: James Dewhirst.
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A ‘DANGEROUS’ man was jailed for four years for setting fire to a pub while his ex-girlfriend and her daughter were upstairs.

But Judge Rodney Grant said James Dewhirst would not be released until he was no longer a danger to the public, during the sentencing at Leeds Crown Court on Tuesday.

Dewhirst, 28, is already serving a 16 month sentence for punching a woman a month after the fire at the Broomfield Hotel, Moorbottom, Cleckheaton.

The court heard Dewhirst was in an on-off relationship with the landlady of the pub, Tracy Kirk, who lived there with her five children.

Prosecutor John Bull said Dewhirst, of Walker Street, Earlsheaton, sent Mrs Kirk texts saying ‘shame you can’t guess what’s coming, burn baby burn’ and ‘disco inferno’ when she tried to end the relationship.

He said Dewhirst went round the next day, and Mrs Kirk let him in, thinking he would not go through with his threats.

Both were working in the pub on January 17 but following an argument, Dewhirst told Mrs Kirk’s daughter that a party that evening would not take place as the pub would be ‘in flames’.

Mr Bull said the daughter heard Dewhirst coming up and down the stairs before calling out the pub was on fire. Dewhirst had bundled clothes into the lit, open fireplace.

Clothes worth £300 were ruined and damage estimated at £100 was caused to the fireplace.

Dewhirst was later arrested in Earlsheaton. He said he meant to text his sister ‘burn baby burn’ and ‘disco inferno’ as they were songs she wanted at her funeral, but he later pleaded guilty to arson.

The court heard Dewhirst had 16 convictions for 27 offences since 1998, for damage, battery and violence, often against partners.

On February 22 he was jailed for 16 months for punching a friend of Tracy Kirk in the face and then asking her to withdraw her statement to the police.

Mitigating, Simon Perkins said Dewhirst had been abused while in care, which he had never addressed. Judge Rodney Grant said Dewhirst was a ‘dangerous individual’ who would not be released until the parole board was satisfied he was no longer a risk to members of the public.

He said: “This offence was completely premeditated. You at least gave some warning to the two people who were clearly on the premises when you set the fire.

“It has to be considered against what happens with your relationships with people you get close to.”