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Medway hospital arsonist Luke French sentenced to life in prison

A serial arsonist who risked lives after torching hospital bins has been given a life sentence.

Luke French from Sittingbourne had started fires near oxygen tanks, a mobile mortuary and two MRI scanners worth £1 million.

The fires didn’t spread because of “prompt actions by staff at Medway Maritime Hospital".

Luke French has been sentenced to life in prison
Luke French has been sentenced to life in prison

Now the 29-year-old pyromaniac Luke French has been given a life sentence for starting three fires in September last year.

French, of Peregrine Drive, had a history of starting fires dating back to childhood and admitted he got a thrill about the fires and watching emergency workers in action.

But Judge Adele Williams told him: “You are a very dangerous young man.”

He had set alight packaging and a waste bin alight at the hospital in two separate incidents minutes apart.

“You are a very dangerous young man...” Judge Adele Williams

Maidstone Crown Court heard that it was only the quick actions of staff who spotted flames that averted serious consequences.

Prosecutor Gabby Henty said the fire happened near two large MRI scanners each worth £500,000, while plastic was set alight next to bin cages and in close proximity to an overflow mobile mortuary.

“But perhaps most seriously was where the mobile oxygen containers were and which connect to the main oxygen supply to the hospital,” she added.

French was caught on CCTV starting the fires and then lurking with an accomplice in the hospital entrance, either to watch the flames or to avoid detection.

Medway Maritime
Medway Maritime

The court heard French ran off when challenged by a hospital worker. About 15 minutes later another member of staff saw rubbish inside a large bin on fire.

It was in front of doors to the scanners and he put it out with a fire extinguisher before calling police.

When arrested French said he did not know one of the arson locations was a morgue.

The court heard he has nine previous convictions for 12 offences, including three of reckless arson.

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These were committed at The Chequers shopping centre in Maidstone, as well as a branch of McDonald's and a Sainsbury's store in the town, over two hours in April 2010.

Each time French would watch the blazes from a short distance away as the fire brigade put them out.

Judge Williams told the smiling fire starter he could apply for parole after serving five years but would only be released when he was regarded as not a risk to society.

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