Thomas Ashcroft has been jailed for eight years after admitting a series of arson attacks and burglaries at public buildings in Kent and Sussex. He used the fires to distract staff and police while he raided cash tills in an effort to fund his drug habit.
Targets included hospitals in Medway, Canterbury and Crawley. The judge at Canterbury Crown Court described Ashcroft as ''dangerous'' and ''wicked'', saying that he stole no more than £1,000 while his wrecking spree cost taxpayers £100,000.
Correspondent Derek Johnson speaks to Det Insp Lee Whitehaed from Kent Police and Pete Johnson from the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust.
VIDEO: A homeless man has been sentenced to 8 years after setting fire to three hospitals. Derek Johnson reports.
Thomas Ashcroft, who is 35, has been sentenced to 8 years after setting fires to two hospitals in Kent and a hotel, then stealing from them to fund a drug habit.
He started fires at hospitals, hotels and leisure complexes across the south east. His intention - to evacuate buildings so he could steal cash from inside. In one arson attack Thomas Ashcroft caused £30,000 worth of damage - yet managed to steal just £25. Tom Savvides reports.
A court has heard how a serial arsonist and burglar caused major disruption to several hospitals, hotels and leisure complexes across the south.
Thomas Ashcroft, 35, has admitted starting fires at several sites, including the Kent and Canterbury Hospital, the Medway Maritime and Crawley hospitals, as well as the Sea Life Centre in Brighton.
The judge at Canterbury Crown Court described the case as extremely serious and will pass sentence tomorrow.
A burglar who pleaded guilty to deliberately starting fires at two hospitals and a hotel will be sentenced later today at Canterbury Crown Court.
Detectives said Thomas Ashcroft, 34, of no fixed address, set fires to cause a distraction so he could go on to commit burglaries.
In October he admitted arson with intent to endanger life and burglary at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital and the Hilton Hotel in Sheffield on August 30 and July 15 respectively.
Ashcroft also pleaded guilty to one count of arson with intent to endanger life and one count of attempted burglary at the Medway Maritime Hospital in Kent on August 29.
Police said he asked for eight further matters to be taken into consideration including arson and burglaries at other hospitals.
– Det Insp Lee Whitehead
His selfish actions led to several hospitals being evacuated, putting vulnerable patients at further risk. Thankfully, no one was injured in these incidents."