Devon

Seaton flats fire: Connor Hallett jailed for arson

Connor Hallett Image copyright Devon and Cornwall Police
Image caption Connor Hallett raised the alarm after he started the fire

A man who set fire to the block of flats where he lived has been jailed for five years and four months.

The 16 flats in Seaton, Devon, have been uninhabitable since the blaze caused by Connor Hallett last December.

Damage to the Royal Clarence building had cost more than £250,000 with three flats gutted, Exeter Crown Court heard.

Hallett, 22, from Harbour Road, Seaton, previously pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life would be endangered.

No insurance

The court heard Hallett started the blaze in his bedroom at about 07:30 GMT on 2 December 2018 after drinking heavily through the night.

It led to three people being treated by paramedics.

Rachel Drake, prosecuting, said residents had lost everything, adding: "The loss of personal effects was particularly distressing."

The Royal Clarence pub and a Boots store in the four-storey building were also closed for at least three weeks.

Image copyright Viewer's picture
Image caption The fire also damaged a pub and a Boots store that were part of the four-storey building
Image copyright Sgt Dave T
Image caption Three people were treated by paramedics because of the fire

Sentencing, Judge Peter Johnson told Hallett he had put more than a dozen lives "at immediate risk".

Although Hallett raised the alarm about the fire, the judge said: "The lives of these ordinary folk have been turned upside down by your actions."

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Hallett had also crashed his car at about 05:30 that day and was found to be twice the legal limit for alcohol when arrested five hours later, the court heard.

He was banned from driving for 41 months by Exeter magistrates in June.

Mary McCarthy, defending, said Hallett had been a talented angler who represented England in his youth and had gone through an emotional breakdown due to family issues.

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