Beds, Herts & Bucks

Arsonist Alexander Gentry jailed for putting five lives at risk

Alexander Gentry Image copyright Bedfordshire Police
Image caption Alexander Gentry struck in his "old stomping ground", Luton Crown Court heard

A man who started a string of fires during one night putting five people's lives at risk has been jailed for life.

Alexander Gentry lit three fires in the early hours of 8 January, targeting a farm, thatched cottage and vintage car museum in Bedfordshire.

He was angry at being evicted from his bail hostel after serving a sentence for arson, Luton Crown Court was told.

Gentry, who caused £1.5m of damage, was told he would not be considered for parole for at least seven years.

At an earlier hearing the 43-year-old, of Napier Road, Luton, was found guilty of two charges of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered and one charge of arson.

A family with a young son were sleeping at the 300-year-old Grade II-listed thatched cottage in Wootton he targeted. And the blaze he started at a nearby barn filled with straw bales was close to a couple's farmhouse, the court heard.

Image copyright Befordshire Police
Image caption Gentry had previously been convicted of arson in 1992 and 2016

He then made his way to the vintage car museum in Biddenham, where its owner had built up a private collection of cars over 50 years.

The court heard the fires were all started in Gentry's "old stomping ground".

He was said to have worked at the farm and had previously been allowed to live in the museum's grounds.

Image copyright Bedfordshire Police
Image caption Gentry also torched cars at a museum in Biddenham

Mitigating, David Wolchover said Gentry's principal problem was "uncontrollable anger".

Judge Andrew Bright QC said each fire caused a "huge amount of damage and two presented a significant risk to people living in or nearby".

"You must have known the occupants would have been asleep," he said.

Gentry had previously been convicted of arson in 1992 and 2016.

Judge Bright said a life sentence was appropriate as he presented a significant risk of committing serious offences.

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