Reading: Man Jailed For Homeless Man Fire

27 February 2014, 13:12 | Updated: 27 February 2014, 13:22

A man who set fire to a homeless man in Reading has been jailed

Ikramul Hoque of Longbarn Lane, Reading, has been jailed for three years and four months after pleading guilty to one count of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered at Reading Crown Court on 3 January 2014.

The 19 year old had denied he knew anyone was in the bag, but a further hearing on 14 February decided he had known.

The 43-year-old victim was sleeping rough outside the library in Reading town centre at about 10pm on Tuesday 10 May 2013, when Hoque, who was walking past with a friend, was heard to say ‘let’s set this guy on fire’ and walked up and used his lighter to set the sleeping bag on fire.

He woke up and suffered burns to the bottom of his feet which required hospital treatment.

Hoque was arrested in connection with the incident on 10 June after a thorough investigation by CID, and subsequently charged on 24 September.

Det Con Iain Watkinson, investigating officer, said: “Hoque initially denied the offence completely to police, before later admitting setting the sleeping bag on fire but claimed he didn’t know anyone was inside it. The Judge completely rejected this submission and said it was inconceivable he didn’t know someone was inside.

“Thankfully the victim woke up from his sleep to find his sleeping bag on fire and managed to put the fire out before it could cause any permanent or long lasting physical injuries.

“This was a completely unnecessary crime against a vulnerable and defencelessperson who thought he was safe sleeping where he was that night. I hope today’s sentence will go some way to providing comfort and reassurance to this victim and others in similar situations and that it reminds people that offences of this nature will not be tolerated. People committing these sorts of crimes will be forcefully prosecuted and risk being sent to prison.”