Arsonist jailed after torching nine cars in Sunderland streets and causing £57,000 damage

A serial arsonist who torched nine cars was caught on CCTV during a terrifying £57,000 wrecking spree.

Tuesday, 29th June 2021, 2:55 pm

Kenneth Sherrington left a shocking trail of damage and destruction in the random overnight attacks between December 2019 and last January.

Newcastle Crown Court heard some owners were awoken by flames that were dangerously close to their homes in Grangetown, Sunderland

One owner lost a wheelchair that had been in his van and was left with mobility problems as a result, while another had cashed in a pension to a start a business that required his vehicle.

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Kenneth Sherrington caused £57,000 in damage after setting fire to nine cars.
Kenneth Sherrington caused £57,000 in damage after setting fire to nine cars.

Both were written off.

Prosecutor Claire Anderson told the court the arson spree started on November 26, 2019 when Sherrington torched a Peugeot motor and a Suzuki Swift in the street where he lived, at Regent Terrace.

The court heard one of the vehicles was only about four meters away from the owner's home and the "street was lit up with flames" coming from one of the cars.

The flames melted front doors near the car which was destroyed in the arson attack

On December 3 a VW Transporter was targeted and although it was not written off £1,000 in damage was caused.

A Citroen DS and a Seat Van containing the wheelchair were torched on New Year's Eve.

And two nights later a Nissan Micra, a Citroen C3 and a Vauxhall van were also set ablaze.

The last attack was on January 9 last year when another Vauxhall van was targeted.

One of the cars which was set alight by Sherrington

Mr Anderson said: "Nine vehicles were set alight in the local area, the damage was £57,700."

Sherrington, of Regent Terrace, Sunderland, admitted nine charges of arson and one of producing cannabis in relation to 15 plants that were found growing in his home when police went to arrest him.

Judge Julie Clemitson sentenced him to 20 months behind bars.

The judge told him: "Between November 26 2019 and January 2020 you set alight to nine vehicles in the Grangetown area of Sunderland. That was usually at night and most of the vehicles were completely destroyed, resulting in an overall loss of £57,000.

Neighbourhood officers from the Grangetown and Ryhope team painstakingly pieced together hundreds of hours of CCTV clips showing each offence.

"All of the fires were started in residential streets, close to houses. Several people were awoken at night by the sounds and lights coming from the blazes you caused."

The judge added: "Your behaviour clearly created a significant risk of further damage and to personal safety of anyone close by, including the fire service who had to attend to deal with those vehicles.

"Your offending had a considerable impact on those whose cars were damaged or destroyed, particularly one owner whose wheelchair was destroyed inside his vehicle, leaving him with reduced mobility outside his home and another who invested his pension into a new business which was put at significant disadvantage because of the loss of the vehicle he required for it."

The judge said Sherrington was mentally unwell at the time of the offences due to a potential combination of not taking medication and drug induced psychosis.

Richard Herrmann, defending, said Sherrington was "reckless" about the damage caused and had considerable psychiatric difficulties at the time.

Sergeant Craig Sherriff, of Northumbria Police, said: "His actions were incredibly dangerous, setting vehicles on fire under the cover of darkness while his victims were fast asleep. In doing so, he endangered the lives of everybody living nearby – he could have easily killed somebody if the blaze had spread to nearby houses.

"I'd like to thank each victim for their cooperation and support throughout this investigation and hope today's outcome offers them some comfort. Sherrington deserves this period behind bars.”

He added: "I would also like to thank the team of officers, especially PC Emily Milne who led the investigation, who all played their part in ensuring Sherrington had his day in court. Their efforts involved piecing together hundreds of hours of CCTV clips, tracking Sherrington's movements, and ultimately proving he was the man responsible for repeatedly lighting the flame.

"This type of crime will not be tolerated in Northumbria and we will use every tactic at our disposal to ensure offenders are identified, arrested and brought to justice."

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