South East Wales

Real Crisps fire: Colin Goulding jailed for factory arson

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Media captionSeptember 2012: 80 jobs were lost when fire wrecked the factory

A man has been jailed for more than six years after starting a fire which destroyed a crisp factory in Crumlin in September 2012.

Colin William Goulding, 31, from Abertillery, Blaenau Gwent, pleaded guilty to an arson charge after a fire at the Real Crisps plant in Caerphilly county.

Cardiff Crown Court heard it took more than 60 firefighters to tackle the blaze with 20 staff led to safety.

About 80 jobs were lost.

The factory's owners - Tayto - offered jobs at their plants in Ireland and England, but few took up the opportunity.

The court was told Goulding, admitted flicking a lit cigarette in the factory and around 60,000 litres of oil used to fry the crisps fuelled the flames that tore through the building.

Image copyright Gwent Police
Image caption Colin Goulding has the intellectual capacity of a 14-year-old

'Exceptional circumstance'

CCTV images showed him around the time the fire was started and he later went outside to film what was happening.

The court heard that Goulding, who has the intellectual capacity of a 14-year-old, knew both his parents were working in the building at the time.

Sentencing him to six years and three months in prison Judge Philip Richards said: "It was reckless and I accept you didn't intend to cause the fire.

"The wholly exceptional circumstance is the the amount of damage accompanied by the amount of loss suffered by the workforce and community by your acts.

"Nevertheless, this remains a serious case."

After the sentencing Crumlin councillor Keith Lloyd said he was disappointed by the length of the sentence.

"I expected a more severe sentence to be honest, given the seriousness of the offence," he told BBC Radio Wales.

"It's been pretty devastating for an area of high unemployment.

"I spoke to three people locally who worked there and fortunately they secured jobs but a lot of the employees were temporary and part-time.

He added: "The hope in the community is that a company will come in and take one of the factories on the site. We've got a number of empty factories within the Crumlin area."

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