Two arsonists have been jailed for a total of three and a half years for setting light to a car in Whitstable.

Sam Murphy, from Selling, was one of two people who set fire to the vehicle near a house in the town in the early hours of 5 July 2020.

The 20-year-old admitted arson at Canterbury Crown Court on 5 July 2021 and was jailed for two years at a hearing on 7 December.

A teenage boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was also jailed for 18 months after he admitted harassment and arson.

Harassment

In the months before the fire, the teenage boy had carried out a campaign of harassment against a teenage girl, which included sending her threatening messages and shouting abuse at her in the street.

Sam Murphy and the boy then set fire to a car which belonged to a relative of the victim on 5 July 2020 by smashing a window and pouring a flammable liquid inside, which they then ignited.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service attended the scene and managed to put out the fire before it spread to neighbouring buildings.

Investigation

The fire was quickly deemed to be suspicious and police officers obtained CCTV images which showed two people approaching the vehicle and smashing a window.

Witnesses identified those pictured and a vehicle linked to Sam Murphy was identified. Officers in Canterbury saw the car in the Wincheap area later the same day.

Sam Murphy and the youth were found inside the vehicle, along with petrol cannisters and the crowbar used to smash the Whitstable car’s window. They were both arrested that day.

Court order

As part of the sentence, a five-year restraining order was put in place, preventing the offenders from contacting the victim or her family.

Detective Constable Jamie Crouch, Kent Police’s investigating officer, said: ‘This was a completely reckless crime and although, due to the actions of our partners in the fire service, it did not cause injury to any victims, it would have a been a terrifying experience for those living in the street.

‘These offenders showed themselves to be unconcerned about who they hurt or what property they damaged and I am pleased that quick-time enquiries on the night of the fire led to their arrest on the same day.

‘I would urge anyone who is being harassed or threatened by someone they know to contact us as soon as possible. We will take whatever steps are necessary to protect you and prevent events from escalating.’

By Ed

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