Man sentenced for 'selfish and vindictive' act of arson
A man has been sentenced for setting fire to a house in Swaffham, just hours after the potential new owners had exchanged on their purchase of it.
Matthew Green, aged 37 and of North Pickenham Road in Swaffham, was given a 12-month suspended sentence and ordered to pay £8,796 in costs for damages, at Norwich Crown Court today (Wednesday 3 March 2021), after pleading guilty to arson at an earlier hearing.
He was also ordered to complete 180 hours unpaid work and a 20 day rehabilitation programme, as well as being handed a restraining order,
The court heard how a couple had exchanged contracts with the owner of the property in Shoemakers Lane in Swaffham on Wednesday 26 June 2019. As part of the process they paid a £32,500 deposit and were due to complete on the sale.
To celebrate the exchange of contracts, the couple went to dinner with friends on Thursday 27 June. On route they stopped at the house to show them what would be their new home. However, when they pulled up on the drive-way at around 5pm, they discovered there had been a fire which had destroyed the front of the property.
Investigations established the fire was started deliberately and following enquiries, officers became aware that Green had tried to buy the Shoemakers Lane property on Tuesday 25 June.
It also transpired that Green had tried to buy the property at the last minute to annoy the buyers. He was unhappy that they had pulled out on the sale of two of his properties in Swaffham due to delays and increasing costs.
When the current owner of the Shoemakers Lane property refused Green’s last-minute offer, Green went to the address sometime between 5pm on Wednesday 26th June and 5pm on Thursday 27th June and set fire to it, resulting in the potential new owners not completing on the sale and losing their deposit for fear of their own safety.
T/Detective Inspector Richard Weller said: “This was a selfish and vindictive act motivated by greed and control. What should have been an exciting move to their dream home quickly became a nightmare for the victims.
“I hope today’s result provides some closure to those who suffered from Matthew Green’s actions and reassures the public that we will thoroughly investigate crimes such as this to secure a successful prosecution. I am proud of my team’s efforts in securing this conviction for the victims.”