Man jailed for setting pub alight

JAILED: James Dewhirst.
JAILED: James Dewhirst.

A ‘DANGEROUS’ man has been jailed for setting fire to a pub while his ex-girlfriend and her daughter were upstairs.

Sentencing James Dewhirst to four years in prison, Judge Rodney Grant said he would only be released when he was no longer a danger to the public.

Dewhirst, 28, is already serving a 16 month sentence for punching a woman a month after the fire at the Broomfield Hotel, Moor Bottom, Cleckheaton.

Leeds Crown Court heard that Dewhirst was in an on-off relationship with the landlady of the pub, Tracy Kirk, who lived there with her five children. Prosecutor John Bull said Dewhirst, of Walker Street, Earlsheaton, sent Mrs Kirk text messages saying: “Shame you can’t guess what’s coming, burn baby burn” and “disco inferno” when she tried to end the relationship.

Mr Bull said Dewhirst went round to see Mrs Kirk the next day, January 16. She let him in, thinking he would not go through with his threats.

But the following day, both were working in the pub when, following an argument, Dewhirst told Mrs Kirk’s daughter that a party that evening would not go ahead as the pub would be in flames.

Mr Bull said the daughter heard Dewhirst going up and down the stairs before calling out that the pub was on fire. Dewhirst had bundled clothes into the lit, open fireplace.

Clothes worth £300 were ruined and damage worth £100 was caused to the fireplace.

Dewhirst was later arrested nad later [pleaded guilty to arson.

The court heard Dewhirst had 16 convictions for 27 offences since 1998, for damage, battery and violence, often against partners.

On February 22 he was jailed for 16 months for punching a friend of Tracy Kirk in the face and then asking her to withdraw her statement to the police.

Mitigating, Simon Perkins said Dewhirst had been abused while in care, which he had never addressed.

Judge Rodney Grant said Dewhirst was a ‘dangerous individual’ who would not be released until the parole board was satisfied he was no longer a risk to members of the public.