Arsonist who set fire to Braintree hostel gets five years in prison

Ben Wilson, 20, set fire to the Braintree Emergency Night Shelter in Braintree High Street in Februa

Ben Wilson, 20, set fire to the Braintree Emergency Night Shelter in Braintree High Street in February - Credit: Archant

A man who set fire to a homeless hostel in Braintree, which forced a resident to jump naked from a second floor window, has been jailed for five years.

Ben Wilson, 20, set fire to the Braintree Emergency Night Shelter in Braintree High Street on Friday, February 13.

He had been evicted the previous night for continually breaking the tenancy rules.

Wilson was found asleep in the shower room at around 7pm on the night of the fire by one of the hostel’s residents, who told Wilson he was not allowed into the building.

About ten minutes later, the smoke alarm was set off.

One of the residents was forced to flee the shower naked and jump 15ft from a second floor window. Fortunately, members of the public alerted a passing bus driver who manoeuvred his double decker bus close enough for the man to jump onto the top.

The fire destroyed the listed building and damaged neighbouring premises.

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Wilson, of no fixed address, admitted a charge of arson with intent at court in June.

He was sentenced to five years and four months in prison when he appeared before Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday.

Investigating officer Dc Andy Young, of Braintree CID, said: “This was a devastating fire.

“Wilson acted out of revenge and his actions continue to have an effect on his victims.

“The resident who was forced to jump from the window continues to suffer physical and psychological effects.

“The fire was also devastating for the people involved in the charity that ran the hostel, which played a vital role in helping homeless people in the town.

“Neighbouring businesses have also had to relocate after their premises were damaged.”

The judge who sentenced Wilson commended the bus driver and members of the public who came to the aid of the hostel residents.

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