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Hadleigh: Man who started fire that destroyed two VW Golfs worth £40k escapes jail term

PUBLISHED: 11:30 05 September 2014 | UPDATED: 11:30 05 September 2014

Ipswich Crown Court

Ipswich Crown Court

Archant

A man who started a £40,000 blaze at a Suffolk garage out of a “misplaced sense of loyalty” to a relative who had a grievance with the business, has walked free from court.

Gavin Seager, 35, of Wilson Road, Hadleigh, admitted arson and was given a 10-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to do 80 hours unpaid work in the community.

Ipswich Crown Court heard that two VW Golf cars worth £20,000 each, which had been parked at Barnards VW garage in Station Road West, Stowmarket, were written off in the blaze and £1,875 damage was caused to a canopy on the building.

The blaze was started on November 13 by Seager out of a “misplaced sense of loyalty” to his brother-in-law who had “a beef” with Barnards about a problem with his car not being covered by a warranty, said Andrew Thompson, prosecuting.

One of the cars destroyed in the fire belonged to Seager’s brother-in-law. The fire was started on the same day he was told that serious damage to the engine, which had been caused by the fitting of a faulty non VW fuel filter by a previous owner, was not covered by a VW warranty.

Mr Thompson said there was no suggestion that Seager’s brother-in-law was in any way connected with the blaze.

Seager was arrested after police officers traced a van, used by the person who started the fire, back to him – and he made full admissions.

Seager was also ordered to pay costs of £1,200 and £1,875 compensation.

Sentencing him, Judge David Goodin said Seager, who has no previous convictions, had suffered from a significant series of depressive episodes.

“In these circumstances it wouldn’t be necessarily in the public interest to send you straight to prison,” said the judge.

“I have every reason to expect today will be the last day you walk through the door of a court,” he added.

Steven Dyble, for Seager, said his client had committed the offence out of a wholly misplaced loyalty to a family member.

He said Seager, who had had a career in motor racing until his early 30s, had suffered from prolonged depressive episodes in 2012 and had made several attempts to kill himself.

Mr Dyble said Seager had stupidly decided to intervene in a “completely unsophisticated way” after learning of his brother-in-law’s dispute with the garage.

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