Newport arson: Philip Day jailed for 15 years for £1.7m fire at 700-year-old house
A man who set fire to a 700-year-old house in Newport in a misguided revenge attack has been jailed for 15 years.
Arsonist Philip Day, 55, who also started a £2.4m blaze at a school in his native Cheshire eight weeks later, must serve a further five years on licence when he is released.
A court was told that he broke into the historic High Street house in Newport while the occupants were away on New Year's Eve 2017.
In the aftermath, it was found multiple fires had been set, causing more than £1.7m in damage.
Day was charged six months later with arson and burglary, and stood trial at Chester Crown Court on January 2 this year, virtually a year to the day of the fire.
The jury heard the incident was linked to a case where Day believed there had been a miscarriage of justice involving a woman he had contacted over social media and with whom he had started an affair.
He decided to target a man involved in that case, found out where he was living and set fire to the house.
Day, of Runcorn, Cheshire, was convicted of arson at the end of a seven-week trial. He was found not guilty of burglary.
He was also convicted of arson with intent to endanger life and two counts of stalking in connection with a separate investigation by Cheshire Police.
Day had made unfounded allegations against a teacher at the University of Chester Academy Northwich and had stalked the staff member and other employees at the school.
He posted messages and videos on social media, naming the teacher, and falsely claimed that children at the academy had been harmed.
It culminated in Day setting fire to the school in the early hours of February 25, 2018, causing extensive damage in the region of £2.4m.
Day was jailed on Friday (May 31) for four years for the Newport arson and six years for the Cheshire school arson, to run consecutively. He was also jailed for five years for one stalking offence, to run consecutively, and four years for the second stalking offence, to run concurrently.
Upon release, he must serve five years on licence, making his total sentence 20 years.
Det Con Christopher Sedgwick, of Essex Police, who investigated the Newport arson, said: “Day has caused considerable pain and heartache, not just to those directly involved but to other innocent people who had nothing to do with him.
“He waged an act of vengeance based on misinformation and unfounded allegations. In doing so, he left a trail of emotional and physical destruction in his wake.
“I’d like to thank the victims, who have shown great strength and dignity throughout this investigation and trial, despite the emotional toil it has had on them.
“The sentence handed to Day reflects the impact of his crimes and I hope it gives the victims some comfort that justice has been done.”