Sacked manager set fire to Southend nightclub

Duncan Hughes who's been jailed for setting fire to a Southend nightclub Credit: Essex Police

An arsonist has been jailed after setting fire to The Basement nightclub, which caused damage costing more than £300,000.

Emergency services were called to The Basement in Alexandra Street, Southend, last October.

Duncan Hughes had entered through the cellar trapdoor in Market Square and had poured bleach over the DJ equipment and set bins alight.

Bottles of spirits were smashed and also set alight and tissue paper placed in the tills behind the main bar and rear bar.

A large fire was lit in the cellar, causing significant damage to pumps, ice machines and stock.

The nightclub suffered from smoke damage on all three floors. The damage cost £347,165.

Hughes, 24, of Southchurch Road, Southend, was identified from CCTV images and clothing worn at the time was recovered from his home address.

He had been a manager at The Basement three months previously, when his employment was terminated.

He pleaded guilty to a charge of arson at Basildon Crown Court in January and was jailed for four years today.

Investigating officer Detective Constable Jon Holden said:

"Hughes has never given an explanation for committing this crime. "His actions have affected a number of staff members significantly and Southend’s social scene"

DC Jon Holden Essex Police