Man guilty over hospital and hotel fires

Fire at Crawley hospital
Image caption Ashcroft asked for attacks at other hotels and hospitals to be taken into consideration

A man has pleaded guilty to arson following fires at two Kent hospitals and a Sheffield hotel.

Thomas Ashcroft, 34, started fires at the Medway Maritime and Kent and Canterbury hospitals so he could go on to commit burglaries, police said.

He also pleaded guilty at Canterbury Crown Court to starting a fire at the Hilton Hotel in Sheffield.

Ashcroft, of no fixed address, will be sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court on 7 December.

He also pleaded guilty to burglaries at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital and Sheffield hotel and attempted burglary at the Medway Maritime.

Ashcroft asked for eight other matters to be taken into consideration.

'Patients at risk'

Kent Police said Ashcroft committed arson and burglary at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital on 30 August.

He then carried out an arson attack and burglary at the Hilton Hotel in Sheffield on 15 July, and committed arson and attempted a burglary at the Medway Maritime Hospital on 29 August, police said.

Det Insp Lee Whitehead said: "His motivation for fire setting appears to have been to cause sufficient distraction to commit burglaries.

"His selfish actions led to several hospitals being evacuated, putting vulnerable patients at further risk."

Kent Police said Ashcroft also asked the court to take into account a mixture of arson and burglary offences at hospitals in Rotherham and Crawley, hotels in Manchester, Brighton and Gatwick Airport and tourist attractions in Brighton and Ramsgate.

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