An arsonist who torched an historic Tudor mansion, causing £5 million worth of damage, has been jailed for four and a half years – after being caught by a single match.
Shop worker Jeremy Taylor, 28, set fire to newspapers he stuffed around drainpipes and doors at Grade II listed Wythenshawe Hall, a 16th century timber-framed manor house.
Taylor was high on cannabis and alcohol and “feeling sorry for himself” at the time, Manchester Crown Court heard.
After setting five separate fires at the building, which had survived for five centuries, he set off for home nearby and left it to burn in the early hours of March 15 last year.
The flames spread through the entrance hall and upwards onto the first and second floors and out through the roof, destroying the bell tower.
The bill to taxpayers for repairing the damage and restoration is estimated to be up to £5.2 million.
After the flames were out two days later, fire and police investigators found three matches – and DNA on one of them matched Taylor to the crime scene.
The defendant, who lived near the hall in Wythenshawe with his family, suffered a “storm of abuse” from locals after his arrest.
The hall, dating back to 1540, was gifted to the city of Manchester in 1926 by a philanthropist “to be used solely for the public good”. It was staffed by volunteers and used to teach local schoolchildren about their history and heritage.
Taylor smiled and waved to his partner in the public gallery as he was jailed for four-and-a-half years after admitting arson at an earlier hearing.