A man who started a fire causing £40,000 worth of damage at a Stowmarket garage has received a suspended prison sentence.
Gavin Seager, 35, of Wilson Road, Hadleigh, was caught thanks to CCTV images and an anti-theft tracking system fitted to the van he was driving.
Today, at Ipswich Crown Court, prosecutor Andrew Thompson said that on the evening of November 13 last year two VW Golf cars worth £20,000 each were destroyed at Barnard’s garage in Station Road West, Stowmarket.
The blaze also resulted in damage costing £1,875 to repair being caused 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.
But officers soon eliminated him from their enquiries.
Suspicion then turned to Seager when police officers recognised a van in the livery of his family’s business Seager Home Solutions seen on CCTV to drive away from the scene.
Checks on the vehicle’s tracking system resulted in it being placed in the area of the fire at about the time it was started.
Seager was arrested and when questioned made full admissions about what he had done, said Mr Thompson.
Appearing for Seager, Stephen Dyble 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.
Seager came from a successful and hard-working family who were supporting him while he sought help for his problems, said Mr Dyble.
Sentencing Seager, Judge David Goodin told him: “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 plainly 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, who had pleaded guilty to an offence of arson, was ordered to carry out 80 hours of unpaid community work and remain under Probation Service supervision for 12 months.
He will have to pay £1200 prosecution costs and £1875 compensation to Barnard’s.