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'There are nights I can't sleep' - Arson victim praises legal changes following attack

PUBLISHED: 13:04 11 July 2019 | UPDATED: 13:35 11 July 2019

David Patrick has praised new sentencing guidelines which take into account the psychological toll arson victims face. Photo:Archant.

David Patrick has praised new sentencing guidelines which take into account the psychological toll arson victims face. Photo:Archant.

Archant

A newsagent whose business was destroyed by a jilted arsonist has praised new sentencing guidelines which take into account the psychological toll victims .

The fire caused £1.8m worth of damage. Picture: Nick ButcherThe fire caused £1.8m worth of damage. Picture: Nick Butcher

In June last year, DC Patrick Newsagents, in Market Place, Halesworth, was destroyed after a fire was started in the flat above.

Stephen Wilson set the blaze, which caused £1.8m worth of damage to the Grade II listed building, after his pregnant girlfriend walked out on him.

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Wilson was handed a nine year jail sentence for the crime but for owner David Patrick the psychological impact could last much longer.

"You're just living through hell," he explained.

The fire caused £1.8m worth of damage. Picture: Nick ButcherThe fire caused £1.8m worth of damage. Picture: Nick Butcher

"There are still nights when I can't sleep, it just keeps going through my mind.

"Many a night I will fall asleep for a few hours, then wake up and start chewing through my head all the things I have got to do."

Due to the building's historic importance all plans to rebuild come under review from conservation organisation such as Heritage England.

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This in turn has created constant setbacks, and more stress, for the newsagent as he attempts to rebuild the business he started 35 years ago.

Earlier this month the Sentencing Council announced new guidelines which will see courts take "full account" of the harm caused by offences such as arson attacks on historic buildings.

A Sentencing Council spokesman said: "The guidelines acknowledge that harm can involve not only physical injury but long-term psychological effects, and that damage to a property can be about more than just its financial value."

The guidelines will come into force from October and Mr Patrick believes they are an important step forward.

"I'm glad they are recognising these things because they really should be", he said.

"It's affected the whole town and that should be taken into account.

"It's a very big psychological thing to deal with and it's important they are recognising it as it should be taken onboard.

"I was just a bystander and I'm the one who has been left to sort it all out. I did nothing wrong and I'm left with this."

Mr Patrick hopes to finally start rebuilding in late September and said the constant support from the Halesworth community has been essential to him during the testing time.

He added: "The wheels are moving but they are moving very slowly."

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