Two men who deliberately started fires across Sussex causing more than £1 million in damage have been sentenced.
20-year-old Joshua Brinkley, of Southfield, Polegate, and 21-year-old Connor Luck, of School Lane, Blackboys, set abandoned buildings, agricultural barns, farmland and haybales alight, causing “extensive damage and disruption”, Sussex Police said.
The estimated value of the total damage they caused was £1,117,825.
Following enquiries, Brinkley was arrested and charged with seven counts of arson and Luck was arrested and charged with two counts of arson.
Brinkley was sentenced to three years imprisonment after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing.
Luck, who also pleaded guilty, was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment, and suspended for two years.
He was ordered to undertake 200 hours unpaid work and 25 rehabilitation days, and will be on an electronically monitored curfew between 8:00a.m and 6:00a.m for three months.
Both were ordered to pay a victim surcharge.
Detective constable Emma Arthur-Devennie said the fires devastated the Sussex farmers involved.
“These arsons were committed with no consideration given to the devastating impact that they would have on the property owners and farmers,” she said.
“The farmers lost a whole season’s worth of feed and bedding for the animals.
“The arsons were not targeted, but simply for Brinkley and Luck’s own amusement. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured but their actions could have resulted in a far more tragic outcome.
“I welcome these sentences and I hope they demonstrate that reckless behaviour will not be tolerated in our local communities, and we will continue to work hard to keep Sussex safe.”
Sussex Police and crime commissioner, Katy Bourne, said: “The actions of the two offenders have been rightly condemned as senseless and hugely dangerous and it’s a miracle that nobody was seriously injured.
“These reckless arsonists left hard working families facing over £1 million in damaged property and resulted in hours of emergency service time being used to tackle blazing buildings and vehicles.
“I hope this sends a message to criminals who think that there are areas of our county where you won’t get caught.”
Lewes Crown Court heard that on June 26, 2021, police were called by West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service to a large fire at a derelict property in Broadwater Lane, Horsham.
On July 8, 2021, police were again alerted by East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service to a large fire at a derelict property in Wivelsfield Green where eight fire engines were in attendance.
On August 29, 2021, police were contacted by East Sussex Fire and Rescue to a large deliberate fire at two outbuildings in Lower Willingdon that contained cylinders and farm machinery.
On November 2, 2021, police assisted East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service with a large fire in a barn on farmland off the A26 at Beddingham.
The force did so again on November 4, 2021, when it was called to assist with road closure following a hay bale fire at a vineyard in Rathfinny, Alfirston.
On November 6, 2021, police attended two large barns on fire in Tarring Neville with smoke going into the A26.
On November 7, 2021, police were contacted by East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service to a report of a silver Vauxhall Corsa being on fire in Lewes Road, Ringmer.
On the same day, police assisted the fire service with a road closure following a large fire involving haybales within a field in Litlington Road, Seaford.
Investigations into each of the fires were carried out by Sussex officers and the causes were confirmed as arson.