Exeter's Mark Clark jailed for Royal Clarence Hotel arson

A kitchen porter has been jailed for two years for setting fire to a hotel while 56 guests were sleeping upstairs.

Mark Clark, 49, of Lloyds Crescent, Exeter used a lighter to start a fire in a bin, in the basement of The Royal Clarence Hotel in the city.

All guests and staff at the hotel, where chef Michael Caines has a restaurant, were evacuated.

At Exeter Crown Court, Clark admitted arson and being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

'Flames visible'

The court was told the defendant had carried out his action because he had a grudge against the hotel or a fellow worker.

Clark claimed the fire had gone out when he left the store room but fire service experts said he must have seen it burning as he left the scene.

Judge Phillip Wassall said: "You set fire to the contents and when you left it I have no doubt flames would have been visible to you.

"Your contention that you thought the fire had gone out was untrue.

"You plainly set this fire because of a grievance against someone or something at your place of work. People who stay in hotels are entitled to expect safety and security."

No one was injured in the fire.

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