Drunken arsonist jailed for starting ferry fire off Yorkshire coast

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An arsonist who set fire to a North Sea ferry off the Yorkshire coast while smoking cannabis in his cabin has been jailed for 11 years.

Boden Hughes, 26, had been drinking heavily on board the vessel when he set a pile of clothes alight after tossing a lighter onto them. Flames soon engulfed the room and smoke filled the corridor with panicked passengers being evacuated onto a higher deck.

Newcastle Crown Court was told crew members attempted to tackle the blaze after the alarm was raised but two fire extinguishers proved ineffectual.

They also struggled to remove Hughes, from Sunderland, from the room when they found him half naked on the floor, and when they did he began to fight with a friend who was also on board.

Ian Lawrie QC, prosecuting, said eventually the ship’s sprinkler system kicked in and put the fire out, which ended up costing DFDS a total of £800,000.

Sentencing him to 11 years in jail, Judge James Goss QC said it was a “spectacular piece of recklessness” that carried the highest culpability.

The blaze broke out aboard the DFDS ferry as it sailed between North Shields and Amsterdam in December.

In total 27 people required treatment for smoke inhalation and six people were airlifted from the vessel, including a pregnant woman. The ferry, which was around 30 miles north east of Flamborough Head, near Scarborough, with a total of 946 passengers and 127 crew on board, was then diverted back to the North Shields terminal.

He received a nine year sentence for the ferry incident and two years for a separate conviction of conspiracy to steal railway cable.