Sentence extended for arson attack plot

A DISGRUNTLED Ilkeston employee who plotted to torch his ex-boss’s home has had his ‘unduly lenient’ sentence increased to a potentially lifelong jail term by top judges.

Shaun Appleyard, 28, of Bath Street, was originally jailed for 46 months at Derby Crown Court after he admitted assisting an offender to commit reckless arson in April this year.

He also pleaded guilty to separate offences of possessing and cultivating cannabis.

But this week lawyers challenged his sentence as being nowhere near tough enough.

And Lord Justice Hooper, sitting at London’s Appeal Court on Tuesday, agreed with Solicitor General Edward Garnier QC that the punishment was too light for a crime which, if carried out, would have had devastating consequences.

Instead the judge sentenced him to an indefinite term of imprisonment for public protection – a sentence reserved for dangerous offenders and which is almost identical to a life term.

The ruling means Appleyard – who would previously have been automatically freed after serving less than two years – will now remain behind bars for as long as it takes to convince the Parole Board he is safe to live in the community.

Lord Justice Hooper, sitting with Mr Justice Supperstone and Sir Geoffrey Grigson, said Appleyard nursed a grudge against Ilkeston Fencing Managing Director Paul Matthewman after he was laid off from the firm due to financial circumstances.

After losing his job, Appleyard pursued a campaign of ‘threats and intimidation’ against Mr Matthewman, and finally recruited another man to set fire to his former boss’s home.

“He showed his associate where his employer lived and insisted that petrol be poured through the main entry to the property,” said Lord Justice Hooper.

“He stated that he wanted the house to be burnt, unconcerned about whether his employer or his family would be inside,” he added.

The plot was foiled when Appleyard’s associate contacted the police, but the discovery of what might have happened had a devastating effect on Mr Matthewman and his family, the court heard, leaving him ‘paranoid’ and fearful for the future.

His wife required medication and counselling after Appleyard’s terror campaign and, despite previously loving her home, she was now keen to move elsewhere because of her family’s ordeal, said the judge, quoting from her victim impact statement.

Lord Justice Hooper said he had ‘no doubt’ the proper sentence for Appleyard was indefinite imprisonment for public protection.