Arsonist jailed for life after starting devastating boat yard blaze | UK | News

November 28, 2023
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Arsonist Robert Boyd-Stevenson has been jailed for life after starting a fire that tore through a boat yard damaging historic buildings in the process.

The 46-year-old gained entry into Underfall boat yard in Bristol in May. Police say Boyd-Stevenson then started a fire that caused millions of pounds worth of damage and will take years to repair.

Emergency services attended the boat yard at around 12.05am on Saturday, May 6. Around 20 people living nearby were evacuated due to the smoke.

Police say the fire spread to nearby buildings that were home to small businesses. It also damaged two private boats, sinking one of them.

Boyd-Stevenson appeared before Bristol Crown Court on Monday having already pleaded guilty to arson with recklessness as to whether life was endangered. He was handed a life sentence and must serve a minimum of six years.

If released, he will be on licence. Judge Martin Picton described Boyd-Stevenson as a dangerous individual, based on his previous convictions, who must have known the fire had potential to cause significant damage.

Detective Sergeant Lisa Jones said: “The seriousness of the fire cannot be underestimated. On another day, Robert Boyd-Stevenson could have seriously injured or killed someone.

“A huge amount of resources had to be deployed by emergency services on the night in question to protect public safety and surrounding properties to stop the blaze spreading, all of which could have been spent tackling other incidents but for Boyd-Stevenson’s recklessness.

“We worked closely with fire investigators from the outset as well as those at Underfall and we were able to arrest the perpetrator within 24 hours, which is a testament to the hard work put in by officers during a busy bank holiday weekend.”

DS Jones added: “While today sees the criminal proceedings come to a conclusion, it would be wrong not to highlight the ongoing financial and emotional distress that is felt by those people who have had decades of hard labour snatched away from them.

“As well as the damage to historic buildings of local and national heritage, many of them have lost irreplaceable prized possessions and it is sobering to hear the impact this crime has had on them.

“I would like to take this opportunity in thanking the local community of Underfall Yard, as well as the residents of Avon Crescent, for their patience and their strength in dealing with their personal loss and that of this city.”



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