A LABOURER, who killed two promising young jockeys when he started a fire in a drunken revenge attack, has been given an indeterminate jail sentence for public protection after a judge said he continued to pose a danger.
Flames ripped through the block of flats in Buckrose Court, Norton, North Yorkshire, on September 5 last year after Peter Brown started the blaze in the exit stairwell on the ground floor after being earlier refused entry to a party.
Ordering him to serve a minimum of seven and a half years in prison minus the time he had already spent in custody, Mrs Justice Nicola Davies told Brown at Leeds Crown Court yesterday his actions had cost the lives of Jamie Kyne, 18, from Co Galway, and Jan Wilson, 19, from Forfar, Scotland ,who were trapped on the top floor.
She said it was an aggravating feature that he had started the fire, which quickly spiralled through the building, around 2am when other residents were asleep and chose an area where there was "a significant build up of combustible material" including furniture, flat packs and possibly paint and white spirits.
"Those sleeping woke up and in panic and fear attempted by any means possible to leave the flaming building. Jan Wilson and Jamie Kyne were asleep in the top floor flat, they were overcome by smoke and tragically were unable to escape."
She said reports indicated Brown, particularly in drink, could be impulsive, emotional and vengeful when faced with rejection, which was demonstrated by his actions on the night of the fire and a previous conviction in 2006 when he sent menacing phone calls to his wife after the breakdown of their marriage.
Brown, 38, who had been acting as a caretaker while living at another flat in the block, was cleared of murdering the teenagers but convicted of their manslaughter by a jury at the court in May. He was also acquitted of arson intending to endanger life.
The jury heard a drunken Brown returned to his flat in the early hours angry at having earlier "in no uncertain terms" been told he was not welcome at the party being held by two women in another flat.
The judge said she accepted from the jury's verdicts that Brown had not intended to kill or seriously injure the teenagers but to "scare, frighten or smoke out" occupants of the flats with tragic consequences.
"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 be the same again."
She said other residents who had managed to escape were also still traumatised by the events of that night, some suffering nightmares.
The judge told the families of the two jockeys sitting in the public gallery that the sentence meant Brown would only be released when the Parole Board considered him no longer a danger.
"No release date is set, the period of imprisonment Peter Brown will ultimately serve will depend on future assessments of the risk which he poses to the public."
Brown, wearing a maroon jumper, white shirt and black trousers stood impassive as he was sentenced and calmly finished a cup of water before leaving the dock to begin his jail term.
Paul Watson, QC, for him, had told the judge Brown still "vehemently and comprehensively denies" he was responsible for the fire.
After the case Detective Inspector Steve Smith said Brown had always presented himself as "very cold."
"He is someone who will not take any responsibility at all for his actions and has always sought to blame others."
Jan Hills, District Crown Prosecutor said: "We will probably never know why Brown decided to commit such a senseless act," but she hoped the sentence would bring comfort to the families.
Judge praises bereaved families
The judge praised the "dignity and restraint" shown by the relatives of the two jockeys throughout and said she hoped that strength of character would help them through the weeks, months and years ahead.
Having read statements from members of both families about the impact of the deaths she said "no one could fail to be moved."
"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 am conscious no sentence passed by this court can ease your loss, no words from me will help on those difficult days."