Firestarter is jailed for torch­ing car

Wishaw Press - - NEVER FORGOTTEN - Mike Mc­quaid

This is the scene out­side St. Mark’s Church in Colt­ness which pays trib­ute to the heroic sac­ri­fice of those who died fight­ing in­world­war One.

St. Mark’s cre­ated a red woollen pop­pies scene while a sim­i­lar Cle­land Par­ish Church project looks on to the vil­lage Main Street.

Rev Gra­ham Austin is min­is­ter for both churches.

He said: “The sup­port has been tremen­dous. Over 7,000 pop­pies have been knit­ted.” A se­rial firestarter who torched a so­cial work car af­ter staff re­fused to give him money has been jailed for four and a half years.

The flames en­gulfed a ven­ti­la­tor unit on a wall of the so­cial work of­fices in Wishaw, but luck­ily the fire was brought un­der con­trol be­fore it could spread to a block of 20 flats.

Alan Beck has twice been sen­tenced to lengthy jail stretches for start­ing fires - one of which caused a care home to be evac­u­ated.

He ad­mit­ted set­ting alight and de­stroy­ing a £10,000 Toy­ota Yaris in Main Street, Wishaw, in the early hours of Fe­bru­ary 10 this year.

Beck, 38, a pris­oner at Ad­diewell, ap­peared at Hamil­ton Sher­iff Court this week. He also ad­mit­ted pos­ses­sion of a knife in Cale­do­nian Road, Wishaw, on May 5.

The court heard he was jailed for 45 months in 2009 for set­ting fire to a num­ber of homes in Cum­ber­nauld.

Then in 2012 he ap­peared at the High Court in Ed­in­burgh where he ad­mit­ted that, while out on early re­lease, he started four fires in the same town, in­clud­ing one at Ran­noch Lodge Nurs­ing Home.

He set fire to cur­tains in the care home which led to 43 el­derly peo­ple be­ing re­moved to safety. Luck­ily, there were no ca­su­al­ties.

Beck was sent to prison for four and a half years on that oc­ca­sion with the judge or­der­ing that he be su­per­vised in the com­mu­nity for a year af­ter his re­lease.

Re­fer­ring to the lat­est fir­erais­ing, Vish Kathuria, pros­e­cut­ing, said Beck was seen on a pub’s CCTV to be un­der the in­flu­ence of al­co­hol shortly be­fore an­other cam­era cap­tured him go­ing into the car park be­hind North La­nark­shire Coun­cil’s so­cial work of­fices and ad­ja­cent flats.

Mr Kathuria told the court: “He was ob­served to walk in the di­rec­tion of a bin shed. Slightly out of shot was a Toy­ota Yaris and a few min­utes later, af­ter Beck left the bin shed, smoke could be seen.

“Firefighters were called and they found the car on fire. Pa­per and card­board had been taken from the bins, stuffed un­der the ve­hi­cle and set alight.

“The flames had spread to a ven­ti­la­tion unit above the ve­hi­cle, at­tached to the wall of the so­cial work of­fices.

“The blaze was brought un­der con­trol be­fore it could spread to the build­ing.

“A so­cial worker iden­ti­fied Beck from the CCTV and ex­plained he was a ser­vice user who had re­lied on the depart­ment for fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance.

“He had at­tended at the of­fices a week be­fore this in­ci­dent and had been re­fused money. That had an­gered him and might have been his mo­ti­va­tion for this of­fence.”

Beck was de­tained in re­la­tion to the fire, but was then re­leased and a few months later was caught, again on CCTV, stag­ger­ing near Wishaw town cen­tre in the early hours with a kitchen knife that had a nine-inch blade.

De­fence agent Nicky Mat­teo sug­gested Beck could ben­e­fit from psy­chi­atric help.

His client was sup­posed to re­frain from drink­ing al­co­hol fol­low­ing his last re­lease from jail, but clearly this had not hap­pened.

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