Nottinghamshire shop owner jailed for setting 'catastrophic' fire to neighbour’s store

A mini-market owner in Nottinghamshire has been jailed for three years for setting fire to his neighbour's store.

Kirit Patel, a 67-year-old father-of-two, set fire to Wheeler’s off-licence and convenience store in February 2019.

The shop, in the Calverton area of the county, was in a terraced row of businesses, with four flats above - two of which were occupied at the time.

In what’s thought to be an act of jealousy, Patel set fire to Wheeler’s because he saw it as being in direct competition with his own store, Calverton News, which offered similar products.

Credit: BPM Media

The blaze started after Patel poured petrol and oil through a vent and ignited it.

Nottingham Crown Court heard on Monday (September 20th) that CCTV inside the building showed movement in the kitchen area, an object dropping into a sink, followed by a splash of liquid and the sink engulfing in flames.

The owner of Wheeler's arrived the next morning and described a "scene of devastation."

Extensive damage was caused by the fire to the kitchen area at the back of the shop, where the sink was totally melted with soot and ash deposited everywhere.

Judge Steven Coupland told Patel: "The effects of what you did could have been catastrophic," adding: "You could have destroyed all four businesses that were linked, caused serious damage or risk to the flats above".

Kirit Patel

Patel had sprayed paint over a neighbouring cafe's CCTV cameras in an attempt to get away with the arson.

He was seen driving up and down the road after the fire, and spoke to police. He asked officers what they thought had happened and what had been captured on CCTV.

A glove left in the middle of a yard at the back of the shops had a DNA trace to Patel, whose barrister said, "has no recollection of events."

Police found fuel cans, ladders similar to those used by the firestarter and a black spray paint can, which matched the colour used to damage the CCTV cameras, after searching his van and news shop.

Patel provided a prepared statement where he said would "never do this to anyone" and he had no issues with the shop owner or anyone else at the shop.

In a statement, the victim said in the days afterwards: "I felt quite emotional about what happened".

The victim sold the shop after finding it “impossible to continue to work there.” 

Patel, who's from Wollaton, has been sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to arson, causing damage by fire to a building and contents. He also received one-month concurrently for damaging the CCTV cameras.