Arsonist torched vans outside house in Rothwell to pay off cocaine debt to drug dealers

Drug dealers ordered a man to set fire to vans parked outside the home of a rival as a way of settling a cocaine debt.

By Tony Gardner
Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 6:00 am

Dario Diclemente was caught after he was told to returned to the crime scene after failing to destroy the vehicles at his first attempt.

Leeds Crown Court heard the 24-year-old was arrested following a violent incident when he was spotted making a second attempt to set fire to the vans on High Ridge Park.

Ian Cook, prosecuting, said Diclemente and another man went to the property on the morning of May 10, 2019.

High Ridge Park, Rothwell.

They walked past the house a number of times with their hoods up before setting fire to the vehicles.

The van owner was woken up by his son who saw the flames and raised the alarm.

He went outside and managed to put out the flames. Around £700 worth of damage was caused.

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They were disturbed as they tried to use flammable liquid to set the same vehicles alight.

Diclemente ran off but was stopped by police a short distance away.

He was arrested as he smelt strongly of diesel.

He was interviewed and initially denied any involvement in the offence, claiming he had travelled to the area in a taxi from the Beeston area.

Diclemente later admitted responsibility for the fires.

He told officers he was in debt to drug dealers and had been told to destroy the vans as a way of paying it off.

Mr Cook said: "After the first attempt he was told he had not completed the task and that he had to return."

Diclemente, of Wyncliffe Gardens, Moortown, Leeds, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson.

Mr Smith said Diclemente had a long-standing cocaine habit and had been able to pay for the drug until he lost his job.

He said: "That is when his problems with the dealer began."

Mr Smith said Diclemente is now receiving support to tackle his drug problem and was hoping to find a new job.

He was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

Diclemente was also ordered to do 180 hours of unpaid work and complete five rehabilitation activity requirement days.