A chef was jailed for jailed for three and a half years yesterday after starting a “potentially catastrophic” city centre blaze in a row over a mobile phone.
Jason Hughes turned up at a flat at St Catherine’s Square, Perth, with a jerry can containing petrol and poured the fuel on to a bed and sofa before igniting it.
Occupants of the building were evacuated and firefighters only extinguished the blaze after it completely destroyed the interior of the flat and caused £36,000 worth of damage.
Hughes, 36, later told police that he had gone to the flats to meet a man to pay him money to get his phone back but was told by a security guard that he did not want visitors.
The man’s body was later found in the complex, but it was established his death was not connected to the fire.
Hughes said he went to a garage and filled the can with fuel which another customer bought for him as he did not have the money to pay for it.
He said: “I’m going to get petrol. I’m going to go in there and I’m going to burn the flat down.”
Hughes told officers: “In my head, that would be payback for stealing my bank card, selling my phone, like a retribution kind of thing.”
Hughes reported his phone as stolen and said he had accidentally left it at a friend’s home and when he returned to get it back was told it had been sold to a neighbour known as Tucker.
Advocate depute Michael Meehan said: “The accused said he had spoken to Tucker who had told him he would have to pay £40 to get his phone back.”
The man identified as Tucker was Thomas McLeish, who was found dead in the complex after the blaze but his death was nothing to do with the fire, the investigation established.
Hughes later phoned his girlfriend and said “something terrible’s happened” and told her he was going to hand himself in to police.
Hughes, a prisoner in Perth, earlier admitted wilfully setting fire to items at the flat on November 18 last year, when he appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh.
Judge Lady Scott told Hughes he would have faced a five-year sentence but for his early guilty plea.