Arsonist is jailed after destroying £80k police station

A man who burned down an £80,000 mobile police station has been jailed for three years.

A court heard drug dealers paid homeless Dwayne Curtis, 46, to destroy the vehicle.

He denied arson but changed his plea after CCTV footage recorded his pet dog Charlie Boy following him during the attack.

His Staffordshire Terrier was stabbed to death and Curtis was stabbed in the buttocks days before he was arrested over the incident in Southend, Essex.

Basildon Crown Court was shown CCTV of him lighting a bin bag and placing it under the vehicle’s passenger wheel arch days after a double stabbing in the street.

Karl Volz, prosecuting, said: “The mobile police station was parked in York Road in an effort to provide reassurance to the public in what had become a troubled area.

“On this particular date at about 12.30am it was set alight by this defendant and destroyed.”

Nicholas Jones, mitigating, said he was raised in a violent Army family and had been convicted for possession of a petrol bomb in Northern Ireland during the 1980s.

The court heard he had a string of violence, theft, dishonesty and burglary offences after being taken into care aged nine.

Mr Jones said: “It’s quite clear that he is somebody who has suffered a disrupted life.”

Curtis changed his plea to guilty after viewing CCTV footage of the incident on October 30.

It showed a shadowy figure emerging from a property near the police station, lighting a bin bag and then calmly walking down the street as the vehicle burns.

The figure was followed by the distinctive shape of his pet who was knifed to death in a town centre attack days before Curtis’ arrest.

Judge David Owen-Jones heard the attack had a lasting psychological effect on Curtis and on Friday said psychologists found there was a “profit motive” because criminals wanted the station removed.

He told Curtis: “You are saying that if you did it you would be paid. You now have to suffer the consequences.”

Detective Chief Inspector Neil Pudney said: “The mobile police station had been put in place to help provide reassurance to the public after a number of incidents in the area which had caused concern.

“Dwayne Curtis’ actions were completely unnecessary and his wanton destruction of an important piece of equipment could’ve actually harmed the community in which he lives.

“While no-one was injured in the fire, it could have had really serious consequences and could’ve posed a real risk to safety of the public – many of whom would have called Curtis a neighbour.

“I hope Curtis will now reflect on his actions and the impact they had.”

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