Hotels

Aberystwyth hotel arsonist sentenced to 21 years

The man who pleaded guilty to starting a fire at the Belgrave House Hotel in Aberystwyth that killed one guest, has been sentenced to 21 years.

Damion Harris, 31, of Llanbadarn Fawr, admitted to the manslaughter of Juozas Tunaitis, arson and inflicting grievous bodily harm. He was given a 16-year custodial sentence and five years on license at Swansea Crown Court.

CCTV footage shows Harris deliberately hide a fire extinguisher before starting two separate fires at around 2am on 25 July 2018. The fire led to firefighters rescuing nine adults and three children from the blaze, however one person was unaccounted for.

Due to the damage of the property it was not until seven weeks after the blaze that the remains of Juozas Tunaitis, who had been working at Aberystwyth University as a fire safety officer, were recovered.

Judge Paul Thomas told the court Harris had entered the hotel for a “malicious purpose,” telling Harris “Having set those fires you then deliberately removed a fire extinguisher. That, Mr Harris, was a wicked thing to do.”

Nadine Radford QC, representing Harris, read a letter to the court which said he was “very sorry for the pain and grief” he had caused.

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