Alcoholic who started fires in Bury flats was ‘horrified’ when told of his actions

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Alcoholic Vasil Andonov was ‘horrified’ when police told him he had endangered the lives of residents in a block of flats by starting two fires.

Andonov, 36, was jailed for four years and eight months on Wednesday after Ipswich Crown Court heard he could remember little what he did on the night of October 4 when he set light to a motorbike and sofa in the stair well of Stamford Court, Bury St Edmunds, where he lived.

Prosecuting, Jacob Edwards said a resident had smelled smoke and was faced with intense heat and dense smoke when he opened the door of his flat to investigate.

It took firefighters 20 minutes to bring it under control when it and they alerted police to Andonov as the probable cause of the blaze,

Andonov said: “It was me. I threw a cigarette.”

Mr Edwards said the block of 12 flats was served by a single entrance which was blocked by the fires, putting the lives of residents at risk.

The fires destroyed the motorcycle, valued at £1,700, and caused £15,000 worth of damage to the building.

Following his arrest Andonov appeared ‘tearful and apologetic’, said Mr Edwards.

Defending, Rebecca Wastall said Andonov could recall holding a lit cigarette lighter against the numberplate of the motorcycle but could not remember why.

Miss Wastall said: “He seemed genuinely horrified by what he had done and the danger he had put other people in.”

She added: “Alcohol has cost him his employment, his housing, his relationship with his child and now his liberty. He has reached rock bottom.”

Andonov had pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered and causing criminal damage when he destroyed a pillow in a police cell.

Judge Rupert Overbury said Andonov, as a resident of the flats, would have been well aware that there was only one exit but he accepted the defendant was remorseful.