Highlands & Islands

Former firefighter who started wildfires fails in appeal

A former firefighter who was jailed for starting two wildfires has failed in an appeal to have his conviction quashed.

David Mackay, 41, who had served as a retained firefighter with the Strontian fire unit for 20 years, was found guilty of two charges of wilful fire raising last year.

The fires were estimated to have caused £1m of damage.

Three judges sitting at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh ruled that Mackay's conviction was legal.

Mackay's legal team had argued that he was wrongly convicted and that the correct legal procedures were not followed at Fort William Sheriff Court during his trial.

Mackay had denied starting the fires on 27 March and 1 April 2013.

The blazes happened during a 10-day period of very dry conditions, when more than 200 wildfires were reported in the Highlands and Islands.

As a retained firefighter, Mackay had helped to tackle the incidents he started.

He was convicted after the trial jury heard evidence that a tracker fitted to his works van placed him at the site of the two fires around the time they started.

Following disciplinary procedures, Mackay was dismissed from the fire service.

Judges will issue their reasons for rejecting Mackay's appeal in a written judgement, to be published later this year.

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