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Arsonist set fire to bins in basement of flats where his victim lived

CCTV caught Mark Smirthwaite, 46, of Newport starting the fire that “psychologically harmed” the people who lived there.

CCTV caught a thief setting fire to trash cans in the building where he lived. Residents were “psychologically hurt” by the fire, which was the sixth time that the flats had been set on fire.

Mark Smirthwaite, who is 46 years old, went into the basement of the Greenwood flats in Newport on April 23. Shortly after he went in, smoke started coming out of the building, and people saw him leave. The fire was stopped before it got out of hand by calling the fire department.

On Thursday, during a sentencing hearing at Cardiff Crown Court, the court heard that Smithwaite was arrested after the CCTV footage was looked at. But he kept saying that he didn’t start the fire on purpose. After a trial, he was found guilty.

When Judge Jeremy Jenkins gave the defendant his sentence, he said: “You have shown no remorse at all…. We’re all too aware of horrible scenes of how fire can spread – particularly in multi-occupancy buildings or flats. While the damage you caused was minimal had that fire taken hold and spread through the chimney area blocked off from other residents as a result of earlier attacks it could have caused quite easily very substantial damage and harm to life.”

Prosecutor Byron Broadstock said that the effect on the people who lived in the flat was psychological because there had been similar acts of arson in the past, and he said that they were “extremely worried.” He said that because of the steps that had already been taken, there was not much chance that people would get hurt.

David Pinnell, a lawyer for the defence, said that his client was still innocent despite the jury’s decision. The court heard that because of this crime, the defendant will not be going back to live at the flats.

Smirthwaite, who lives on Beaufort Road in Newport, was given a three-year prison sentence. He will have to stay in jail for half of his sentence before he can go free.