Matthew Dervan was forced to clamber out of the tent seconds before it is engulfed in flames and burned ‘to a cinder’ within minutes.
Gordon, from Sheldon, Birmingham, admitted arson and theft following the random attack on a grass verge outside a church centre in Birmingham city centre. Patrick Sullivan, prosecuting, said: ‘He was asleep in the tent at around 7am when CCTV captured what the defendant did.
‘Ian Gordon walked up to a corner of the tent, knelt down and used what looked like a lighter to set fire to it.
‘He then did the same thing to another corner. There were a number of things draped over the tent including the victim’s jacket which Gordon took.
Both sources of ignition took hold and flames grew rapidly. ‘CCTV shows the tent catching fire rigorously.
Theresa Hunt, defending, said: ‘There is no satisfactory explanation as to why Gordon would have carried out this offence.
‘He had nothing to gain from setting fire to the tent. He left his house early that morning, got a bus into town and did this.’
He has since been jailed for six and a half years at Birmingham Crown Court. Judge Patrick Thomas QC, sentencing, said: ‘You set fire to a tent in which someone was asleep. ‘It is pure good fortune for you and him he woke up before it was too late.
‘I have no explanation for why you did this. This case of itself demonstrates that you are a danger. ‘There is a significant risk you will re offend.’
Detective Constable Laurence Green, of West Midlands Police, said after the case: ‘We still don’t know what the motivation for this was.
‘Following the offence, a number of officers from the local neighbourhood team and CID walked around the city centre, speaking with members of the homeless community, not only to gather intelligence of the offence, but to reassure them. ‘The offender was quickly identified from the excellent CCTV footage and was arrested from his home address.’ SHARE THIS STORY USING ANY OF THE BUTTON BELOW ⬇ PLACE YOUR TEXT ADVERT BELOW ⬇⬇⬇
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