Published: 00:00, 20 February 2005
A FIREBUG who burnt down Hythe cricket pavilion with Molotov cocktails in a drunken escapade has been sent to prison for two years and eight months.
Samuel Clinch, 20, of Grange Road, Saltwood, near Hythe, also destroyed a boat, causing a fisherman to lose his livelihood for several months, Maidstone Crown Court was told.
After Clinch went out for the evening with friends on April 5 last year, a suggestion was made to light a fire on the beach to keep warm.
It was then suggested that petrol bombs be made using bottles they had drunk from.
Judge Jeremy Carey said it was Clinch who threw them. The first landed on the boat Lavicca, owned by Kevin Sharp, burning the wheelhouse and fishing nets.
The group moved on to the cricket ground, where Clinch hurled a "bomb" at the timber-built pavilion, burning it down.
After Clinch admitted two charges of arson, the judge told him there was no alternative to custody.
"You committed two very serious offences of arson," he said. "You spent the evening with friends in Hythe and during the course of that time you became substantially the worse for drink.
"You caused substantial damage to that boat by that act of total recklessness. Mr Sharp couldn't use the boat for some time. He was faced with a repair bill of £3,000 and £1,500 loss of earnings."
To make matters worse, said Judge Carey, the boat was at the time undergoing refurbishment and was not insured. He said of the pavilion: "In that one act of criminal behaviour an historic building and the pleasure it gave to many people was destroyed."
Sentencing Clinch to youth custody, the judge said: "I bear in mind that you are still a young man, you were of good character and others have spoken positively of you - of your industry as a student and your wish to better yourself."
It was not possible or practical, he said, to order compensation. Jonathan Higgs, defending, had earlier told the judge that the vast figure was beyond Clinch's means.
Clinch, he said, was one of a group of young men with far too much drink in them and things spiralled far beyond the bounds of normal behaviour.
"What he has done has brought devastation on the cricket pavilion and also the boat, but it is also right to observe that it has brought devastation on him as well," he said.
It would take many years for Clinch to live down the behaviour, which happened within the space of a few hours when roaring drunk, and he was deeply ashamed.
"He is an industrious, hard-working young man with a lot of good about him," said Mr Higgs. "This offence was out of character. The court will have to reflect the enormity of his crime and the disapproval of society."