Three men jailed after setting fire to Luton estate agency as people slept above

 Glen Ratcliffe, 36, Darren Smith, 42, and Paul Mitchell, 52, started multiple fires around the building’s front entrance and rear in the early hours of 14 August 2022.
Darren Smith, Paul Mitchell and Glen Ratcliff were captured together earlier that night. Credit: Bedfordshire Police

Three men who set fire to an estate agents while people were living in the flat above have been jailed.

The incident happened in the early hours of 14 August 2022, when Glen Ratcliffe, 36, Darren Smith, 42 and Paul Mitchell, 52, started multiple fires around the front and rear of the building in Luton.

CCTV captured Ratcliffe and Smith smash through the front window of the property and place something on the floor, before the fire began inside.

Mitchell was also caught on CCTV purchasing petrol in a jerry can from a petrol station prior to the incident. A similar jerry can was discovered at the scene.

Additional footage discovered by police showed the three individuals together earlier that night.

Four occupants of the flat above the estate agents managed to escape, and a woman was taken to hospital and later released with no serious injuries.

Ratcliffe, of Crescent Road, Luton; Smith, of St Loyes Street, Bedford; and Mitchell, of Library Road, Luton, were sentenced at the Old Bailey on 18 October after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit arson with intent to endanger life.

Both Ratcliffe and Smith were sentenced to four years in prison.

Mitchell, who was found guilty of the same offence following a trial at Luton Crown Court in February, and was sentenced to five years.

Det Con Ciaran O’Brien from Bedfordshire Police said: “This was a deliberate and dangerous act that put lives at risk, and such behaviour will not be tolerated.

“We are committed to ensuring the safety of our residents in Bedfordshire, and shall spare no effort in our pursuit of individuals who post a threat to our communities.”