Arsonist jailed for ‘potentially devastating’ fire

FAMILIES were forced to flee their homes after a “potentially devastating” arson attack in Harrogate.

Mark Masheder
Mark Masheder

Two tenants inside the mid-terrace building suffered smoke inhalation and were taken to hospital after Mark Masheder, 27, set fire to a bedsit which threatened to spread to neighbouring properties, York Crown Court heard.

Masheder, of Ripon Road, Harrogate, admitted starting the fire in the early hours of August 24 and appeared in court for sentence on Thursday.

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Prosecuting barrister Glen Parsons said Masheder and a friend, who were both tenants of the multi-occupancy property on Scargill Road, ransacked a bedsit belonging to a male tenant.

Masheder’s friend stole a money box and was later convicted of theft.

After ransacking the room, Masheder set fire to it, causing a cloud of smoke which drifted through the building and woke one of the female tenants.

She ran out into the street to raise the alarm and firefighters got there just before the fire was about to spread. They brought it under control but the building had already suffered extensive smoke damage.

Mr Parsons said that if the woman hadn’t been woken, the fire could have had catastrophic consequences.

“He (Masheder) knew there were other people in that property but did nothing to raise the alarm,” added the prosecutor.

He said the cost of refurbishing the building was £15,000.

The court heard that Masheder had 13 previous convictions and was currently on prison remand following a 17-month jail sentence imposed in February for offences committed after the arson attack.

Defending, Taryn Turner said Masheder, had a drink and drug problem and was going through a personal crisis at the time.

Jailing Masheder for four years, judge Stephen Ashurst told him he had put the lives of other tenants and young families “at real risk”, adding: “The fire was a potentially devastating one.”