North East Wales

Running Hare pub staff jailed for arson attack

The Running Hare pub at Ewloe, Flintshire (picture courtesy of leaderlive.co.uk)
Image caption The arson cost the pub's owners £1.1m

Two former employees at a Flintshire pub admitted carrying out a £500,000 arson on the premises to cover up a £200 theft.

At Mold Crown Court, former head chef Clinton James Stephen, 31, was jailed for three years and four months.

And ex-assistant manager Christopher Ryan Drake, 20, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years youth detention.

The pair set fire to The Running Hare pub, Ewloe, in February after stealing from a gaming machine.

The court heard the £3m "super pub" was gutted and the total loss, involving renovations, loss of stock and takings, was more than £1.1m.

Judge Niclas Parry described it as "a deliberate, persistent and determined arson" with the intention of concealing an earlier crime.

The fire alarms had been deactivated and the defendants visited the fire more than once - not to bring it under control but to ensure that it was strong enough to serve its purpose, he said.

"The level of damage and loss was enormous," said Judge Parry.

Stephen, of Chester, and Drake from Meols, Wirral, also admitted stealing £200 from the pub fruit machine, belonging to Marston's Brewery .

A charge of perverting the course of justice by giving police false information about the fire was dropped.

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