Lowestoft arsonist started fire at 15 storey block of flats during row

A fire broke out at St Peter's Court in Lowestoft in August last year.

Ipswich Crown Court heard between 20 and 30 families were evacuated. - Credit: Jasper King

A  25-year-old man started a fire in a bike shed under a 15 storey block of flats in Suffolk during a row, resulting in more than 20 families being evacuated, a court has heard.

Fire service tape at St Peter's Court in Lowestoft after a suspected arson attack on Monday

Fire service tape at St Peter's Court in Lowestoft following the incident. - Credit: Jasper King

Lee Lawrence set light to petrol in a Suzuki motorcycle in the bike shed under St Peter’s Court in Chapel Street, Lowestoft, and the resulting fire destroyed the motorbike and caused more than £18,000 damage, said Stephen Rose, prosecuting.

Between 20 and 30 families were evacuated from the 80 flats in the block and had to be placed in emergency accommodation by the local council.

After starting the fire Lawrence had sent his former friend a text saying: “Good luck riding your motorbike”, the court heard.

Mr Rose described the fire in the bike shed as a “revenge attack” motivated by Lawrence having a grudge against his former friend because he thought he’d told his ex-girlfriend he’d cheated on her.

Lawrence, of Jacobs Street, was due to have been sentenced on Friday ( February 11) but Judge Martyn Levett adjourned the case until next week after cases earlier in the day overran.

He said he would have to decide whether or not he should sentence Lawrence as a dangerous offender. 

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At an earlier hearing, Lawrence admitted arson being reckless as to whether life would be endangered following the fire in August last year.

The court heard that seven fire crews extinguished the blaze, which caused £18,000 damage to the ground floor of the building, communal landing area and electrics.

Residents of the flats were forced to leave the building as crews battled the blaze at 9.45pm but were eventually allowed to return to their homes at about 1am.

The court heard that Lawrence has 21 previous convictions but none for arson.

Richard Sutton QC for Lawrence urged the court not to treat his client as a dangerous offender.

He said Lawrence accepted responsibility for what he’d done.