Firestarter is jailed for torching car
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.