UK & World News

  • 23 January 2013, 17:41

Jail For Addict Who Set Hospitals On Fire

A homeless burglar who started fires at hospitals and a hotel so he could steal money to buy drugs has been jailed for eight years.

Thomas Ashcroft, a 35-year-old drug addict, had pleaded guilty.

He started the fires to cause a distraction before rifling through tills to help fund his 250-a-day cocaine and heroin addiction.

A judge said he put lives at risk with "sheer premeditated wickedness" by targeting NHS hospitals.

Ashcroft admitted arson, being reckless as to whether life was endangered and burglary at the Medway Maritime Hospital in Kent on August 29, the Kent and Canterbury Hospital on August 30 and the Hilton Hotel in Sheffield on July 15.

He asked for eight further matters to be taken into consideration relating to arsons and burglaries at other hospitals, hotels and a visitor attraction across Britain.

Jailing Ashcroft at Canterbury Crown Court, Judge James O'Mahony said he would serve eight years behind bars and be subject to an extended licence for four years.

A career criminal, Ashcroft has appeared in court 65 times for 150 offences.

Prosecutor Martin Yale said that Ashcroft telephoned police to hand himself in on August 31, saying he was subject to prison recall.

He told officers he travelled around Britain by train, starting fires in buildings which had smoke detectors so the alarm would be raised quickly.

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