A DAD who set fire to a storage shed belonging to Nandos after failing to break into it has walked free from court.
The blaze deliberately started by Howard Franey caused a total of £15,355 and created storage problems to the business and was “a huge inconvenience.”
The 39-year-old was quickly tracked down after the fire at Aintree Racecourse Retail Park as he had been captured on CCTV, Claire Jones, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court.
Franey, of Smollett Street, Bootle, pleaded guilty to arson and attempted theft but after hearing about his emotional difficulties and care duties a judge passed a suspended prison sentence.
Miss Jones said that just after 5am on June 17 last year the defendant went to the bin area of the restuarant.
“The defendant was there for nearly an hour - making repeated attempts to force entry to the storage container owned by Nando’s and directly next to the restaurant and within their fenced off area.
“He used a variety of implements from the area including a scaffold pole. He was seen on several occasions to use his body weight and was also violent tugging at the door to try and gain entry. Despite all that he was unable to force entry.
“At 6:07am the defendant then collected discarded cardboard from the same area and placed it in front of the storage unit entrance. He was then seen to bend down close to the cardboard. He was seen to leave the bin area and as he is doing so flames and smoke are seen from the entrance area. “
Miss Jones said that a number of 999 calls were received from members of the public after seeing flames and billowing smoke to the fire and the fire brigade turned up and put out the blaze before it could spread to the adjacent food outlet building.
Franey was identified from the CCTV footage by police because of their previous dealings with him. He was arrested at his home on July 23 and made no comment when interviewed.
The court heard that he has numerous previous convictions and at the time of the offences was subject to a Community Order and a Criminal Behaviour Order.
Anna Duke, defending, said that Franey had a lot of “emotional problems.” He had been the full time carer for his mum who died last November. He is still a carer for his partner who has on-going medical problems.
He has no other arson offences on his record and it had been “an aberration” caused by emotional stress and he behaved in a way which was totally out of character,” said Miss Duke.
She added that he and his partner have young children and because of the Covid 19 situation if he was jailed he would not be able to have any contact with his family.
Judge Brian Cummings, QC sentenced Franey to 20 months imprisonment suspended for two years. He also ordered him to carry out 200 hours unpaid work, 15 days rehabilitation activities and to attend a thinking skills programme.