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Duo sentenced for arson attacks realising damage totalling over £1 million

10 December 2023

TWO MEN who deliberately started fires across Sussex causing more than £1 million in damage have been sentenced. Joshua Brinkley, aged 20 of Southfield in Polegate and Connor Luck (21) of School Lane in Blackboys set abandoned buildings, agricultural barns, farmland and haybales alight, subsequently causing extensive damage and disruption. The estimated value of the total damage the pair caused is £1,117,825.

On 30 October, Lewes Crown Court heard that, at 10.27 pm on 26 June 2021, Sussex Police officers were called by the West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, whose firefighters on scene were tackling a large blaze at a derelict property located on Broadwater Lane in Horsham.

On 8 July 2021 at 3.39 am, firefighters from the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service alerted the police service to a large fire burning at a derelict property in Wivelsfield Green where eight fire engines were in attendance.

At 7.23 am on 29 August 2021, Sussex Police was again contacted by the East Sussex Fire and Rescue due to a large and deliberate fire burning at two outbuildings in Lower Willingdon that contained cylinders and farm machinery.

On 2 November 2021 at 2.54 am, officers from Sussex Police assisted the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service in dealing with a large fire in a barn on farmland off the A26 at Beddingham.

At 4.32 am on 4 November 2021, police officers from Sussex Police were called to assist firefighters from the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service with road closures following a hay bale fire at a vineyard in Rathfinny, Alfriston.

On 6 November 2021 at 10.49 pm, the police service attended two large barns, which were on fire in Tarring Neville and causing smoke to billow across the A26.

At 4.04 am on 7 November 2021, Sussex Police was contacted by the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service in relation to reports of a silver Vauxhall Corsa being on fire in Lewes Road, Ringmer.

Finally, at 5.28 am on the same day, police officers from Sussex Police assisted the Fire and Rescue Service with a road closure following a large fire involving haybales located within a field adjacent to Litlington Road in Seaford.

Confirmation of arson

Investigations into each of the fires were conducted by officers and the causes were confirmed as arson. Following enquiries being made, Brinkley was arrested and charged with seven counts of arson. Luck was arrested and charged with two counts of arson.

Brinkley has been sentenced to three years’ imprisonment after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing. Luck, who also pleaded guilty, was sentenced to 21 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years. He was ordered to undertake 200 hours of unpaid work in the community and attend 25 rehabilitation days. Luck will be on an electronically monitored curfew between 8.00 pm and 6.00 am for a period of three months. Both Brinkley and Luck have been ordered to pay a victim surcharge.

A 19-year-old man from Polegate was also arrested and charged with one count of arson. However, no evidence was offered and, as a result, a ‘not guilty’ verdict was recorded.

Devastating impact

Detective constable Emma Arthur-Devennie explained: “These arson attacks were committed with no consideration given to the devastating impact that they would have on the property owners and farmers. The farmers lost a whole season’s worth of feed and bedding for their animals.”

Arthur-Devennie continued: “These arson attacks were not targeted, but simply carried out for Brinkley and Luck’s own amusement. Fortunately, no-one was seriously injured, but the actions of the duo could have resulted in a far more tragic outcome.”

In conclusion, Arthur-Devennie observed: “I welcome these sentences and hope they demonstrate that reckless behaviour will not be tolerated in our local communities. We will continue to work hard to keep Sussex safe.”

Katy Bourne, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Sussex, commented: “The actions of the two offenders have been rightly condemned as senseless and hugely dangerous. It’s a miracle that no-one was seriously injured.”

Bourne added: “These reckless arsonists left hard-working families facing over £1 million in damaged property. Their actions resulted in hours being expended by Emergency Services personnel to tackle blazing buildings and vehicles. I hope this verdict sends a strong message that such activity will not be tolerated.”