Undertaker sentenced to 200 hours community work after starting fire in Bilsthorpe

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An undertaker who was found guilty of starting a fire in a hedge near Bilsthorpe has been sentenced to 200 hours unpaid work for the community.

Village resident James Gibson, 32, was released on Monday after spending two months in prison awaiting a psychiatric report following his trial in February.

A jury at Nottingham Crown Court convicted him of arson on a day when five fires were discovered in hedges alongside fields near the village.

During his trial Gibson, of Chapel Gardens, told the court he took his Staffordshire bull terrier for its daily walk on 1st May last year on a path from the top of Wycar Road to Foxhall kennels.

He denied being responsible for any of the fires discovered that day.

Firefighters arrived to deal with them.

Gibson denied he had become obsessed with fire. He admitted finding it a ‘bit exciting’ getting into a fire truck and directing it to the scene of a blaze.

His barrister Sunil Khanna said: “He continues to deny the offence.’ The period in custody had come as a shock.”

Gibson had worked in the family business since leaving school.

The judge, Recorder James Millington, said the jury had concluded Gibson started at least one of the fires.

No residential or commercial premises had been put at risk. But there had been a significant threat of damage to a crop of rapeseed.

“The motivation remains something of a mystery,” said the judge. Gibson had made an unsuccessful attempt to join the fire service some time ago.

The judge told him: “I’m satisfied you don’t present any risk to the community or suffer from any mental disorder.”

But he had caused considerable nuisance and the fire service had needed to turn out.

The appropriate sentence was unpaid work as part of a two year community order.