‘Baby burn’ taunt of West Yorkshire pub arsonist

James Dewhirst.
James Dewhirst.
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A JEALOUS boyfriend torched his girlfriend’s pub the day after sending her a text message which read: “Burn baby burn, disco inferno!”

James Dewhirst, 28, was given an indeterminate prison sentence for the attack on the Broomfield Hotel, Cleckheaton, when his partner Tracey Kirk and her daughter were still inside the building.

Leeds Crown Court heard Dewhirst and Ms Kirk had been in an on-off relationship for three years before the incident took place on January 17 this year.

John Bull, prosecuting, said Ms Kirk had sent Dewhirst a text message saying she wanted to bring the relationship to end.

Mr Bull said Dewhirst replied calling her a ‘slag’, accusing her of infidelity and asking if she had insurance for the pub.

Another message read ‘shame you can’t guess what’s coming’ and ‘burn baby bay, disco inferno.” Later that night Dewhirst sent more messages saying he loved her and he was allowed back into the pub the following morning.

But the couple argued again and in the early hours of the next morning, Dewhirst filled bin bags with clothes and threw them on to an open fire.

He shouted to Ms Kirk ‘you had better sort your pub out, it’s on fire’ before leaving in a taxi. Ms Kirk and her daughter managed to stop the fire spreading and contacted emergency services.

Mr Bull said around £400 worth of smoke damage was caused to the property.

Police arrested Dewhirst and he denied intentionally sending the threatening text messages to Ms Kirk.

He said he meant to send the ‘burn baby burn, disco inferno’ message to his sister as it was the song she wants to be played at her funeral.

Dewhirst told officers Ms Kirk and her sister had taken on the Broomfield Hotel but it wasn’t making money.

Dewhirst, of Walker Street, Earlsheaton, Dewsbury, pleaded guilty to arson.

The court heard he has 16 previous convictions for 27 offences and had served prison sentences for assault and perverting the course of justice.

A probation report considered him to pose a serious risk of causing harm to people in the future, particularly partners or close family members.

Simon Perkins, defending Dewhirst, said the fire damage to the building was minimal and his offending stemmed from an abusive childhood.

Judge Rodney Grant gave Dewhirst an indeterminate sentence, saying he had demonstrated a capacity to cause serious harm to others.

He must serve a minimum of two years before he can apply to the parole board for release.

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