Newcastle man set fire to cars outside West End garage in 'sinister' arson attack

James Duncanson was caught on camera setting fires outside a garage in Newcastle. Credit: NCJ Media

An arsonist was caught on camera setting fire to cars outside a garage in a "sinister" attack on behalf of underworld figures, a court heard.

James Duncanson used accelerant on four cars awaiting repairs or MOTs before setting them on fire.

Newcastle Crown Court heard he was acting on the orders of others, to whom he was in debt.

Duncanson caused thousands of pounds of damage and left the business owner living in fear.

The arson attacks happened at AK Autos and Tyres, in the West End of Newcastle on 27 June.

The owner had closed the garage at 8pm and got a call just before midnight from a friend who noticed there was a fire, the court heard.

Lee Fish, prosecuting, said: "He travelled to the garage and when he arrived the fire brigade was already there.

"He provided CCTV from the business to the police, showing the defendant spraying four vehicles with a liquid then lighting them. All four vehicles were damaged, some more than others." The total cost of the required repairs was £5,780.

The victim said: "I feel I've been targeted and this has had a huge impact on my business and personal life. I work long hours and I'm having to stay awake during the night to check cameras at my business and house to ensure no further damage has been caused and my family are safe.

"I'm constantly thinking about what might happen and I can't concentrate on everyday tasks. It's also had a huge financial impact on the business."

Mr Fish added: "Two days later the police were called to a report of a kidnap involving the defendant as a complainant. He refused to make a complaint and the matter was not progressed."

Duncanson also admitted throwing a brick through the window of a family home, causing superficial cuts to a child present in the room and causing damage worth £300 to repair. That householder said his children have been left petrified and are now too frightened to play out.

Duncanson, 44, of Brian Roycroft Court, Byker, Newcastle, who has 122 previous convictions, pleaded guilty to four counts of arson and one of criminal damage and was jailed for three years and two months.

James Duncanson was jailed for three years and two months after pleading guilty to arson and criminal damage. Credit: NCJ Media

Recorder Mark McKone KC, who called the circumstances "sinister", said: "In the pre-sentence report you said you didn't know the victims. You had built up debt and criminals to whom you owed money asked you to carry out these attacks on their behalf. You have chosen to protect the identity of the criminals you were working for."

Andrew Walker, mitigating, said: "He didn't initiate this. If he had the role of a so-called enforcer it was a temporary one and it was done amateurishly in full view of cameras. The very next day he was a victim of what was being treated as a kidnap and has since been the victim of a hit-and-run.

"It's not suggested that has any link to the complainant in this case but in one way or another some sort of rough justice seems to have been meted out.

"He was, to an extent, exploited due to his addiction and debt."

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