Kent

Neil Clark and Marc Hitchcock jailed for Kent arsons

Neil Clark and Marc Hitchcock
Image caption Neil Clark and Marc Hitchcock admitted the arson attacks carried out over a three-month period

Two men who carried out a campaign of arson attacks in Kent, including one on the offices of an MP, have been jailed.

Neil Clark, 35, and Marc Hitchcock, 20, started fires at five businesses, the first at the offices of Faversham and Mid Kent MP Hugh Robertson in Lenham.

Clark was jailed for 10 years and Hitchcock sent to a young offenders institution for four-and-a-half years.

The pair admitted conspiracy to commit arson at an earlier hearing. Clark also admitted threatening criminal damage.

Maidstone Crown Court was told Clark, of Surrey Road, who led the campaign, wrote on his laptop that he was planning to commit murder and thought daily about burning people alive.

He and Hitchcock, of Oxford Road, were caught after emails were sent to the Kent Messenger newspaper complaining their crimes had not received enough media coverage.

One email contained threats against a senior police officer and his home.

The fires took place between 28 October last year and 30 January 2011.

Image caption A fire last October destroyed Lenham Ironmongers and the Faversham MP's office

As well as Mr Robertson's office and an adjoining shop, arson attacks took place at a garage in Boughton Monchelsea; a bathroom and kitchen showroom in Warmlake and two garages in Ulcombe and Headcorn.

Each of the buildings was daubed with a yellow painted number signifying the order of the attacks.

Kent Police said Clark and Hitchcock were traced using automatic number plate recognition and data from their mobile phones.

"What was most worrying about this case was the intent to cause serious damage and the subsequent fear that they caused innocent people," said Ch Supt Matthew Nix.

"A lot of lives were affected by these fires.

"I've no doubt that if we hadn't caught them they would have continued their acts. Sooner or later someone would have been hurt."

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