Cambridgeshire

Chilford Hall barn arson: Accused admits drink problem

Chilford Hall fire damage
Image caption Chilford Hall's wedding barn and adjoining rooms were burned down in June

A 28-year-old man accused of burning down a wedding venue in an attack, which another man has admitted, told a court he had a drink problem.

An 18th Century barn and adjoining rooms were torched at Chilford Hall, Linton, Cambridgeshire, in June.

Mark Hall, of Haverhill, Suffolk, told Cambridge Crown Court he had been drinking "quite heavily" on the night of the fire.

Mr Hall denies arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

Speaking through an intermediary because he is autistic and has learning difficulties, he said he had been adopted at the age of seven.

Being sacked

He came to Haverhill at the age of 16, had never had a job and was on benefits.

His drinking problem had got worse since his father had died in April this year, he said.

Ex-worker Thomas Richardson, also of Haverhill, admits arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

The prosecution said Richardson, 27, of Pipers Close, had worked at the business for seven years before being sacked in 2009 for stealing alcohol and drinking on the premises.

The trial continues.

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