Lying killer Declan Lancaster hid secret for two years and told cops he was victim Patryk Mortimer's best friend
Officers who investigated the death of Patryk Mortimer say his killer Declan Lancaster ‘tried to convince police that he was Patryk’s best friend and played no part in his death’ while he hid what he had done for two years.
Lancaster was given a life sentence after starting a raging fire that went on to kill a man who was trapped inside his room.
For nearly two years, Lancaster kept secret he started the fire at the Manor House in Easington Lane that resulted in the death of Patryk Mortimer.
Patryk, 39, was found unconscious in the early hours of November 3, 2018, after flames had engulfed the High Street premises.
Lancaster had been socialising inside the address with friends before he decided to start a fire in a small cupboard in the hallway. All other residents were able to escape but sadly Patryk was later found deceased outside his room.
The fire sparked a two-year investigation as detectives trawled through more than 600 hours of CCTV footage, took hundreds of statements and interviewed various suspects in a bid to determine who lit the flame.
The 24-year-old pleaded guilty to manslaughter and arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered when he appeared at Newcastle Crown Court in March this year.
A judge handed him a life sentence with a minimum of five years before he can even be considered for release. However, he could serve much longer than that until he is no longer deemed a risk to the public.
Detective Sergeant Steven Brown, of Northumbria Police, said: “No sentence today can take away the pain and anguish that Patryk’s family have suffered over the last two-and-a-half years.
“My thoughts remain with them at this devastating time and I sincerely hope that today’s outcome can offer them some degree of comfort, knowing that Patryk’s killer has been brought to justice.
“Declan Lancaster’s actions were both dangerous and reckless. He cruelly took away Patryk’s future – and so easily could have led to the deaths of many others inside the Manor House that night.
“As Patryk’s family and friends desperately sought answers, for nearly two years Lancaster concealed his dark secret and deprived them of any kind of closure.
“He knowingly and willingly started that fire, and the final insult came as he repeatedly tried to convince police that he was Patryk’s best friend and played no part in his death.
“He proved himself to be a danger to society and there’s no doubt that the streets of Northumbria are a safer place as a result of him being brought to justice and put behind bars.
“I welcome today’s sentence and would like to thank everybody who played their part in helping to ensure Lancaster was brought before the court to answer his crimes – from the community who assisted us at every step through to all the officers who played their part in this investigation.
“Today, it is clear that all your hard work has been worth it in securing justice for Patryk’s family.”
Lancaster, of no fixed abode, now begins a custodial term.