A LABOURER was told today that he must serve at least seven and a half years in prison for killing two promising young jockeys who died when he torched a North Yorkshire flat in a drunken revenge attack.
Peter Brown started a fire after being refused entry to a party at flats in Norton near Malton, in September last year.
The blaze ripped through the block, killing Jamie Kyne, 18, from Kiltrogue, Co Galway, Ireland, and Jan Wilson, 19, from Forfar, Scotland.
Brown, 37, of Brotherton, North Yorkshire, was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter and given an indeterminate sentence for public protection when he appeared at Leeds Crown Court today.
Passing sentence, Mrs Justice Nicola Davies said independent assessments had concluded that Brown still posed a significant risk to the public.
In particular, the judge said Brown showed a lack of control when faced by rejection - as demonstrated by his actions on the night of the fire.
She told him: "The offences of which you have been convicted are extremely serious. As a result of your actions, two young people, aged 18 and 19, both of whom had embarked on promising careers in the field of horse racing, lost their lives.
"Jamie Kyne's family has lost a much-loved son, grandson and brother. Jan Wilson's family has lost a much-loved daughter and granddaughter. For them, life will never again be the same."
Brown was cleared of murder but found guilty of the manslaughter of the riders following a 16-day trial at Leeds Crown Court last May.
Brown, who is originally from the Aberdeen area of Scotland, was also cleared of arson with intent to endanger life.
The jury heard that Brown - who had a long-standing problem with drink - worked as a caretaker in the flats complex and had a prickly relationship with the women who lived in the flat where the party was taking place.
The two jockeys slept on the floor above where the party had been.
The jury was told that a drunken Brown set light to rubbish in the stairwell after he returned from a drinking session in local pubs in the early hours of the morning.
The judge said today that the evidence was inconclusive that Brown had used white spirit to start the fire. She said the verdicts showed that Brown intended to "frighten or smoke-out" the occupants.
The fire quickly took hold in the early hours of September 5 last year as the stairwell acted like a chimney.
Residents had to jump for their lives from windows or climb down drainpipes to escape.
Ms Wilson and Mr Kyne were trapped at the top of the building.
Mr Kyne lived in the flat with fellow jockey Ian Brennan. Ms Wilson was Mr Brennan's girlfriend and had been staying over.
Brown, who was dressed in a red jumper, white shirt and dark trousers, appeared to smirk at times during the sentencing.
His barrister, Paul Watson QC, said his client still "vehemently and comprehensively" denies he was responsible for the fire and he offered little mitigation.
The judge was told Brown has convictions for criminal damage and sending abusive phone messages to his ex-wife following an acrimonious split.
After sentencing Brown, the judge turned to the packed public gallery to praise the "dignity and restraint" shown by the relatives of the victims and the "strength of character" they demonstrated.
She said: "I have read the statements from members of the family and the impact of their deaths upon all of you.
"No-one reading those statements can fail to be moved by them.
"I know that, for each one of you, nothing will ever be the same again and that this particular time of year is going to be painfully poignant.
"I want you to understand the sentence I have passed is one that reflects that Peter Brown is a dangerous man and one who poses a significant risk of harm to others.
"The sentence I have imposed is the very minimum he will serve and is the equivalent of a determinate sentence of 15 years.
"No release date has been set. How long the period of imprisonment Peter Brown will ultimately serve will depend on future assessments and the risk he poses to the public."
Brown will serve a minimum of seven-and-a-half years in jail less time spent on remand.
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Alan Carey, said: "I am satisfied with the sentence in this extremely tragic case. Peter Brown has shown little or no remorse, let alone an admission of his guilt throughout the investigation and the subsequent trial.
"He chose not to give evidence, thereby refusing to be cross examined in relation to his actions on the night of the tragedy. It is perhaps telling that he did not want to be confronted with questions as to what he did and why.
"The fact that he took this decision is of little comfort to Jan and Jamie's families who are still left wondering why the fire was started. Today's sentence means he finally has to face up to the consequences of those actions."
The detective added: "I can only hope that today's sentence will offer a small source of comfort to both Jamie's and Jan's loved ones.
"Nothing can ever bring them back, but we hope their families and friends can now move on with their lives knowing that Brown is finally facing justice for his actions. "