Manchester

Fake arson and kidnap victim from Stockport is jailed

Steven Thornley
Image caption Steven Thornley was jailed for four years

A man who suffered burns after setting a van alight then told police he had been kidnapped has been jailed.

Steven Thornley, from Stockport, said he had been bundled into the back of the van by men wearing balaclavas, doused in petrol and set alight.

Police began an attempted murder inquiry after he suffered 40% burns, but found he started the fire himself.

The 29-year-old was convicted of arson and other offences at Manchester's Minshull Street Crown Court.

Thornley was seen on fire in Lakes Road, Marple, at about 2150 BST on 27 July 2008, police said.

After receiving extensive treatment, he told officers he had been visiting a house in Buxton Road, Stockport, and was attacked while going out for a packet of cigarettes.

Keyring found

But when officers started to investigate, they discovered the van he was in had been stolen from Buxton Road.

They also found keys in the door lock of the van which had a fob attached with the name Steve on it.

Officers went to Thornley's house and tested them on his house and a car parked outside - they worked on both.

Image caption Analysis showed Thornley was not in the van when it was set alight

He was unable to explain why his keys were found in the door lock of the van, police said.

Analysis from a fire and explosions expert also suggested Thornley had not been inside the van when it was set alight, but outside and was burned when the flames spread, police said.

Thornley, of Ecclesbridge Road, Marple, was also convicted of attempted fraud and perverting the course of justice.

He was sentenced to four years in prison.

Det Insp Kevin Dolan, of Greater Manchester Police, said: "Thornley accidentally burnt himself when setting fire to the van and he instantly tried to cover his tracks and attempted to lead my officers down a blind alley, completely wasting a substantial amount of our time and scarce resources.

"However, as the investigation into the attempt murder continued, his story just didn't add up.

"He tried to be clever but in the end the thorough police investigation combined with the detailed forensic examination of the scene showed there was no substance or truth in his cover story."

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