Killer Declan Lancaster who started deadly Manor House fire had set Sunderland play park alight as a child
An arsonist who admitted manslaughter after setting the fire which killed a man in Easington Lane was spoken to by police as a child after setting fire to a play park.
Patryk Mortimer lost his life in a fatal fire at Manor House premises – a former care home in Easington Lane’s High Street – on November 3, 2018.
Nine other residents in the property were able to escape but the 39-year-old, who had been in his room listening to music, was overwhelmed by the ‘ferocious’ flames after opening the fire safety door in a bid to make it to the fire exit.
As police launched a murder investigation, Declan Lancaster was arrested and questioned.
Following a two-year investigation, the 23-year-old, who was originally accused of murder, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and arson being reckless as to the endangerment of life at Newcastle Crown Court in March.
He has now been sentenced to life with a minimum of five years before he can apply for parole.
Lancaster, who had been a suspected in detectives inquiries from the immediate days after the blaze, had previous for setting fire to a playpark in the Palmstead Road area of Sunderland whilst he was a child.
Detective Sergeant Steven Brown, of Northumbria Police, said: “We were aware from early that we believed it was Declan. The detail and the circumstances of the case were directing us towards Declan. We were aware that he has previously had an arson conviction against him as well.
"This all further helped build and support our rationale which helped us focus going forward. Thankfully because of the level of investigation and the attention to detail the investigation team has had we’ve managed to keep on that line of inquiry and were successful.”
Northumbria Police has also thanked Patryk’s family and the community for their support.
DS Brown added: "It further shows how strong the community is when initially they had a perception that there was criminality and issues coming from the residents that were there which were never proven.
"However once something so drastic and horrendous takes place it shows the true colours of anybody in the community and how they come together and support each and they help the police in order to investigate.”