CCTV and an anti-theft tracking device led to the arrest of a man who set fire to a Stowmarket garage.
Gavin Seager, 35, pleaded guilty at Ipswich Crown Court to arson in which more than £40,000 of damage was caused to Barnard’s garage in Station Road West on November 13.
On Tuesday prosecutor Andrew Thompson told the court that two VW cars each worth £20,000 were destroyed in the blaze which also resulted in £1,875 of damage to a canopy.
Police initially detained Seager’s brother-in-law who was the owner of one of the cars and who was involved in a dispute with the garage said Mr Thompson. Officers soon eliminated him from their inquiries.
Suspicion turned to Seager when police recognised a van in the livery of his family’s business which was seen on CCTV to drive away from the scene.
Checks on the vehicle’s tracking system placed it in the area of the fire at about the time it was started.
Seager, of Wilson Road, Hadleigh, was arrested and made a full admissions about what he had done said Mr Thompson.
Stephen Dyble, appearing for Seager, said: “It is difficult to justify as a rational act. He was not in a rational state of mind at the time he committed this.”
Mr Dyble said that Seager was being treated for depression and had a history of attempted self-harm.
The defendant came from a successful and hard working family who were supporting him while he sought help for his problems the court was told.
Sentencing Seager Judge David Goodin said: “Offences of arson can cover all sorts of circumstances and degrees. The reason they have to be dealt with seriously is that they can often end in a result very different from what was intended by the arsonist.”
Imposing a 10 month prison sentence suspended for 12 months Judge Goodin said: “This offence was planly out of character and the consequence at least in part of the stress to which you had been subject.
“In those circumstances it would not be necessary in the public interest to send you straight to prison.”
Seager was ordered to carry out 80 hours community work and be under Probation Service supervision for 12 months. He must pay £1,200 prosecution costs and £1,875 compensation.