Alex GENTRY Image Bedfordshire Police

Judge said householders “lucky to get out alive”

A judge has said that householders were “lucky to get out alive” as he handed down a life sentence to a man found guilty of arson, after a series of fires were set in rural areas of Kempston earlier this year.

Alexander Gentry, 43, of no fixed address, ignited a barn in Wood End Lane, in the early hours of 8 January, before starting another fire at a thatched cottage in Green End Road around two hours later, whilst the occupants slept.

From there he targeted another location in Great Ouse Way, Bromham, where he set light to structures housing valuable vintage cars and agricultural equipment.

At Luton Crown Court today (20 August 2019), Gentry was jailed for life for each of three counts of arson with intent to endanger life, and told he must serve a minimum of seven years in prison before being considered for parole.

Presiding, His Honour Judge Andrew Bright, said that Gentry’s actions were so serious he presents a risk of further similar offences, and added he was in no doubt that his intention was to cause maximum damage.

Detective constable Gareth Jones, who led the investigation, said:

“Gentry set fires that destroyed property worth almost £1.5 million, but more importantly, put people in serious danger and devastated their lives. Luckily, no one was injured.

“The sentence imposed on him today reflects the gravity with which we and the courts view arson, and he will no longer pose a risk to the county’s communities.”

Station commander Lorraine Moore, from Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, said:

“We’re delighted that Gentry has been handed such a lengthy sentence and feel this reflects the severity of his offences.

“Tackling three simultaneous, intentional fires tied up a large number of fire service resources for a significant period of time.

“Gentry put the lives of several people at risk, both members of the public and firefighters. Fortunately no-one was hurt but his actions had a serious impact on the victims and I’m pleased that this has been recognised.”