Haverhill: Two Jailed For Wedding Venue Fire

8 February 2013, 16:18 | Updated: 8 February 2013, 16:31

Two men from Haverhill have been jailed after a fire caused £5million of damage to a 400 year-old wedding venue.

Prosecutor Christopher Morgan said: "The loss of these buildings and personal items was irreplaceable. It also had a widespread impact on the local economy.''

Richardson had been sacked by the venue for stealing alcohol exactly three years before the blaze and had long held a grudge.

He had driven autistic Hall to the barn and encouraged him to take part in the arson attack, jurors were told during their trial.

Earlier in the evening Richardson told his girlfriend of his plan. She called the fire service to warn them but it was treated as a hoax call.

Richardson, 27, admitted arson while Hall, 28, was found guilty by a jury after a trial.

Both of the men from Haverhill, Suffolk, were cleared of the more serious charge of being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

Judge Gareth Hawkesworth jailed Richardson for five years and four months and Hall for four years.

He said: "Chilford Hall was a family business and a much loved asset within the East Anglia community.

"The fire started in the dead of night when the venue was deserted but the owner, Fiona Alper, and her son were asleep a matter of yards away.

"It was only the bravery and dedication of the fire service which prevented damage to their home and danger to them.

"The fire burnt fiercely all night and it wasn't until the next morning that it was fully controlled.''