Pensioner, 80, released after life sentence for murder, back behind bars for Maidstone arson in James Whatman Way flats

PUBLISHED: 14:43 21 September 2017 | UPDATED: 14:44 21 September 2017

Damage caused by the blaze

Damage caused by the blaze


James Clarke had been released on licence following a 1990 murder conviction

James ClarkeJames Clarke

A 80-year-old released from prison after being convicted of murder is back behind bars after being sent down for three years for starting a fire at his home in Maidstone.

Pensioner James Clarke caused tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage when he started the fire on the bed of his third floor flat in James Whatman Way on April 30.

When the alarm was raised, Clarke told emergency crews he had deliberately caused the fire.

Police and fire crews attended where he was taken to safety and arrested.

Clarke was immediately recalled to prison, having breached a life licence imposed following a previous conviction in 1990 for murder.

Appearing before Maidstone Crown Court, he admitted a charge of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

He was sentenced to three years and four months imprisonment.

Detective sergeant Neil Martin said: “The building in which Clarke lived also housed a large number of sheltered accommodation residents, mainly elderly and vulnerable people. They all had to be evacuated and Clarke’s incredibly reckless actions put their lives at risk, as well as his own.

“Although no one was injured, Clarke presents a significant risk of causing serious harm and the sentence he has received is entirely appropriate.”

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