Three jailed over arson attack at Weston-super-Mare mansion
THREE men from Weston- super-Mare have been jailed for an arson attack which wrecked a historic country mansion in Somerset.
Sandhill Park at Bishops Lydeard, near Taunton, was built around 1720 and had an illustrious history as a private home, a prisoner of war camp and military and civilian hospitals.
But in the early hours of November 22, 2011 it was torched.
It took crews from six fire engines almost 12 hours to bring the blaze under control.
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Rebuilding the already-derelict Grade II*-listed building could cost up to £10 million, Taunton Crown Court was told yesterday.
The house is considered particularly important because of its interior ornamental Rococo plasterwork, which experts fear may be lost forever.
Four men were arrested soon afterwards and the following month pleaded guilty to arson.
Yesterday, Marcus Tancock, 20, of Tamar Road, Weston-super-Mare, was jailed for two years and three months; Nathan Goldfinch, 20, of Knightstone Road, Weston, was given 18 months, and Stuart Walter, 23, of Slade Lane, Weston, was jailed for a year; while Liam Grant, aged 19, formerly of Cheddar, was given a year and nine months.
The court was told Tancock climbed on to the flat roof of the east wing and started the fire, while Grant and Goldfinch acted as look-outs and Walter was their driver.
Tancock had previously pleaded guilty to dangerous driving in Locking Road, Weston, and was disqualified for a year. Grant was also sentenced for two offences of fraud and breach of a conditional discharge for making off without payment from a petrol station.
The judge said Walter's sentence was reduced by his early plea of guilty and to reflect his co-operation with the police.
Sandhill Park was already on English Heritage's at-risk register. The fire totally destroyed the roof structure of the main range and east wing of the house.
Speaking after the sentencing, investigating officer Detective Constable Kevin Pellow described the arson attack as "catastrophic" and added: "I am certain these men knew what they were doing and the impact their actions would have."