Arsonist who started barn blazes in district is jailed indefinitely
AN ARSONIST ‘fascinated by fire’ who started devastating barn blazes in the Harborough district has been jailed indefinitely.
Michael Leverton, who sparked two huge fires in Glooston and Stonton Wyville on the same day, will not be released from prison until officials are sure he no longer poses a threat to the public.
The 50-year-old torched a large barn at Moat Farm, Glooston, at 8.40pm on November 17 last year, then stood and watched as flames engulfed the structure, Leicester Crown Court heard.
The fire caused more than £100,000 damage, destroying tractors, farming equipment and crops, while neighbours rushed to rescue horses from a stable next to the blazing barn.
Later that night, Leverton started a second fire less than a mile away at Stonton Wyville, destroying a barn and thousands of pounds’ worth of straw.
During last week’s court hearing, Leverton admitted two counts of ‘arson being reckless as to whether life was in danger’. The court heard he had previous convictions for starting fires.
Jailing him at Leicester Crown Court on Friday (September 7), Judge Simon Hammond said: “This man will not be released until he is considered to no longer be a risk to the public. I anticipate he may never be released.”
Adrian Harris, prosecuting, said Leverton had been seen in Glooston three days before the blaze.
He was seen again less than two hours before the fire was started, visiting the Old Barn pub across the road.
Mr Harris said the couple living next to the barn went out after hearing horses in distress.
“They saw that the barn was on fire,” Mr Harris said. “Their horse was kept next to the barn, and they managed to rescue it before calling 999.”
The barn owner, who was in the pub, was alerted when his daughter ran in.
“It was well ablaze,” said Mr Harris. “[The resident] desperately searched for the keys to one of his tractors before it caught light, but it was too late.”
Leverton watched the fire – which involved 100 tons of fertiliser and gas cylinders – before walking towards Stonton Wyville.
At about 9.30pm, another barn was discovered on fire in that village.
Leverton was later seen by police less than a mile away and was arrested after giving a false name.
Officers went to his home at Acorn Close Care Centre in Shepshed – for people with mental health issues – and found newspaper cuttings about fires and a tape with recordings of radio reports about fires on it.
The court was told staff at the centre said Leverton had a ‘fascination with fire’.
In June 1982, Leverton was slapped with a suspended sentence for causing criminal damage, through fire.
Seven months’ later, he caused £25,000 damage to a dairy in Ashby. He was given a hospital order and released in 2009.
In mitigation for the latest offences, James House, defending, said his client had admitted guilt and suffered from multiple sclerosis .
“He had little in common with others at the [Acorn] centre and I am afraid boredom led to him going out and about in the country,” Mr House said.
The defence did not present a psychiatric report to the court.
Judge Hammond sentenced Leverton to a public protection order, jailing him indefinitely with a minimum term of four years.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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