Man guilty of setting fire to friend who lost his leg after attack

Craig Finn
Craig Finn
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A yob faces jail after setting fire to a friend who later had to have his leg amputated.

Craig Finn suffered horrendous burns and needed his left leg taken off below the knee after he was set alight by pal James George Thomas Gillibrand.

Craig Finn

Craig Finn

Mr Finn had invited Gillibrand, both men knowing each other after growing up in Seaham, to his new house in Spennymoor, County Durham, for a drink in February last year.

But the night took an horrific turn when Mr Finn, 25, was set on fire while he lay unconscious.

Medics rushed him to Newcastle’s RVI after he suffered a catalogue of burns to his legs and back.

While in an induced coma, surgeons operated to remove his left leg below the knee, while his right ankle had to be reconstructed.

Craig Finn

Craig Finn

In the wake of the nightmare incident, Gillibrand, 25, of Wesley Way, and David William Lewis, 32, of Nelson Street, both Seaham, were charged in connection with the attack.

Both men were charged with grievous bodily harm with intent, arson with intent to endanger life, causing grievous bodily harm without intent and arson reckless as to whether life was endangered.

Lewis pleaded not guilty to all four charges at a Durham Crown Court hearing in April, with Gillibrand pleading guilty to causing grievous bodily harm without intent and arson reckless as to whether life was endangered and not guilty to the other two charges.

The pair were set to face a trial at the same court yesterday, but following discussions between all parties, the prosecution accepted Gillibrand’s guilty pleas with Lewis found not guilty on all four counts.

Craig Finn

Craig Finn

Prosecutor Richard Bennett said: “I’ve taken discussions and spoken at length with the victim’s family.

“The pleas now entered are acceptable and we don’t seek a trial.”

Gillibrand’s solicitor, Barry Robson, asked for bail for his client from judge John Milford QC.

“The situation has not changed since April,” said Mr Robson.

“He (Gillibrand) would like to get his affairs in order for what will no doubt be a custodial sentence.

“This is a man of good character who should be allowed to get his house in order.

“He has just finished doing an electrical engineering course, he lives with his parents and his brother and has never been in trouble before.

“He is very close with his family.”

However, the plea fell on deaf ears, with Judge Milford saying: “You have pleaded guilty to two counts.

“Given the gravity of the injuries suffered in this case there can be nothing other than a sentence that will immediately deprived you of your liberty.

“I can see no merit in granting bail whatsoever.”

Gillibrand is now set to appear at the same court for sentencing on Thursday, October 8.