Land­lord gets nine years for killing pal in pub fire

Halifax Courier - - Yourcourier - By Court Re­porter

A land­lord has been jailed for nine years af­ter he started a dev­as­tat­ing fire which claimed the life of his best friend. Brad­ford Crown Court was shown CCTV footage from in­side the Welling­ton Inn in Pye Nest, Hal­i­fax, which cap­tured the mo­ment when drunken Shaun McBride poured petrol around the lounge area of his own premises and set fire to it with a lighted mag­a­zine.

The petrol ig­nited im­me­di­ately and within 20 sec­onds the ground floor of the pub was en­gulfed in thick smoke.

The court heard that McBride’s long-term re­la­tion­ship with Selina Firth had bro­ken down and be­fore start­ing the early hours blaze in June the de­pressed 31-year- old had been on a drink­ing binge which in­cluded up to 20 pints of beer and a quan­tity of gin.

Pros­e­cu­tor Jonathan Sharp said af­ter his pub crawl around Hal­i­fax McBride had c o nt i nued drink­ing at his own pub with his reg­u­lar drink­ing part­ner 50- year- old An­drew McGow.

As the blaze took hold McBride tried to put it out with a fire ex­ting u i s h e r, but h e

eventu- ally es­caped through the front door only to re­alise that Mr McGow, who was also drunk that night, was still in­side the pub scream­ing for help.

Mr Sharp said the flames were so in­tense that nei­ther McBride nor a pass­ing mo­torist, who had called 999, could get into the pub.

“Af­ter a while the shouts ceased,” said Mr Sharp.

“Mr McGow had been over­come by the smoke and had col­lapsed to the floor.”

STRETCHER

Four fire­fight­ers us­ing breath­ing ap­pa­ra­tus man­aged to stretcher Mr McGow out of the pub, but he had al­ready suf­fered burns to 40 per cent of his body and he died the next day at Pin­der­fields Hos­pi­tal, Wake­field.

Mr Sharp also showed the court a video record­ing of the af­ter­math of the fire which had caused an es­ti­mated £100,000 dam­age to the unin­sured premises.

Although McBride ac­cepted that the fire had been his fault he also claimed ini­tially that the petrol had been set alight ac­ci­den­tally.

But the po­lice in­quiry re­vealed he had made threats ear­lier that night to start a blaze at the pub which his part­ner had in­vested money in.

The CCTV footage showed McBride mak­ing ini­tial at­tempts to start a fire in the lounge area be­fore he even­tu­ally went out­side and re­turned with a full can of petrol.

McBride, of Rochdale Road, Hal­i­fax, pleaded guilty to a charge of man­slaugh­ter, but his bar­ris­ter Michelle Col­borne QC said it was not a case where her client had in­tended harm to any­one par­tic­u­larly his close friend.

She said McBride saw Mr McGow as an “older brother” as well as a best friend.

“This is not a case where the de­fen­dant in­tended to harm or en­dan­ger the lives of any­one,” she sub­mit­ted.

“He never en­vis­aged that any­one would come to harm.

DEV­AS­TATED

“The de­ceased was the clos­est friend that this de­fen­dant had and he viewed him as an older brother. The fam­ily, and the de­fen­dant, are dev­as­tated by his loss.”

Miss Col­borne said McBride was “in a mess” at the time and his flawed think­ing in drink led to con­se­quences which went far be­yond any­thing he ex­pected.

But jail­ing McBride Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC said he had been caught up in his own per­sonal grief and up­set and had never given any thought to Mr McGow.

The judge noted that McBride him­self had said that the de­ceased had made re­peated at­tempts to stop him and Mr McGow had been caught up in his ar­gu­ment with his part­ner.

“I have some dif­fi­culty in un­der­stand­ing, in truth, your mo­ti­va­tion,” the judge told McBride.

“I sus­pect you are just some­body who was pre­pared to go to ex­treme lengths to prove some­thing to that lady who had stood by you.”

The judge set the start­ing point for McBride’s prison sen­tence at 14 years, but his guilty plea to the man­slaugh­ter meant he was en­ti­tled to credit which re­duced the jail term to nine years.

The fire dam­age at the Welling­ton Inn

Shaun McBride started the fire which claimed the life of his best friend

An­drew McGow, who died in the blaze

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