Belgrave Commercial Centre: Man jailed for shopping centre fire

Fire at Belgrave Commercial Centre in Leicester Image copyright @TheArtOfNeeti
Image caption The fire destroyed two units in Belgrave Commercial Centre and damaged four others

A man who set fire to a shopping centre, causing £1m in damage and putting restaurant diners in danger, has been jailed.

Parvinder Singh had no reason for starting the Belgrave Commercial Centre fire in January 2019 but had been worried about his illegal immigration status, Leicester Crown Court heard.

Judge Philip Head said it was "a great mercy" diners escaped although they had been "gravely at risk".

Singh was sentenced to 34 months.

The 28-year-old, of no fixed address, had previously denied arson with intent to endanger life before admitting damaging property recklessly as to endanger life, at a hearing earlier this year.

Judge Head said the restaurant at the front of the building was occupied by about 10 people at about 21:30 GMT on 6 January 2019.

The court heard Singh poured the fluid on plastic crates and lit the fire after looking inside the restaurant window, where he "must have known" people were inside.

He then "threw the bag with the rest of the lighter fluid on to the flames and left within 30 seconds".

Judge Head said: "There is no evidence as to the reason why you did what you did but you then... got hold of some liquid firelighter which you put in a container and carried in a bag to that building."

Image caption The Belgrave Commercial Centre is three storeys high with 24 commercial units, including a grocery store and restaurant on the street front

The court heard 10 fire appliances were needed and crews had to monitor the blaze for 36 hours to make sure it did not flare up again.

The damage to the building was in excess of £1m, Judge Head said, and there had been a further loss of income for those affected.

He added that although he accepted Singh was worried about his immigration status, that does not "amount to you having a mental disorder at the time".

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