Bus shelter arsonist back in court for breaching suspended sentence

The bus shelter in Wickham Market was destroyed by fire Picture: JULIAN EVANS

The bus shelter in Wickham Market was destroyed by fire Picture: JULIAN EVANS - Credit: Julian Evans

An arsonist who set light to a bus shelter, causing £13,000 worth of damage, has returned to court for breaching his suspended prison sentence.

Last October, Kurtis Gardiner was handed 10 months’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, after admitting arson, criminal damage and assault.

He also received 200 hours’ unpaid work, a four-month curfew and 40 days of rehabilitation activity requirement.

The 28-year-old was said to be going through a mental health crisis and had been drinking on the night he set alight a bus shelter, broke a flagpole and damaged other property in Wickham Market on July 9, 2019.

The spree of damage began when he stood on a plant pot and tried to tear down a flag flying outside a dental practice.

After snapping the flagpole, he removed a gold ball from the top and drop-kicked it into a wall

Gardiner, of Montagu Drive, Saxmundham, then used a lighter to set fire to the bus shelter on Market Hill.

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The next day, he hit a 66-year-old man in the face with a shopping basket outside the Co-op.

On Wednesday, he returned to Ipswich Crown Court for breaching the suspended sentence.

Gardiner was caught driving in Leiston on February 3 – during the hours of his home curfew – with 86 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath – the legal limit being 35mcg.

On July 6, before magistrates’, he admitted drink-driving and resisting police the same day.

Magistrates sentenced Gardiner for the offences but referred the breach back to the crown court.

Steven Dyble, representing Gardiner, said he had engaged well with the probation service, mental health and wellbeing services.

He asked Judge David Goodin to view the matter as Gardiner having taken “many steps forward but one step back”.

The court heard that Gardiner had completed 67 of the 200 hours’ unpaid work before it was suspended due to coronavirus.

Judge Goodin told Gardiner: “Had you breached the suspended sentence by the commission of broadly similar offences, you could be sure you would be spending Christmas in prison.”

Judge Goodin extended the operational period of the sentence to 20 months and warned Gardiner: “Watch your step, and remember, any offence of any description is a breach.”