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Arsonist who got a 'kick' from setting chapel alight is jailed

A pyromaniac who destroyed an Aberfan chapel has been jailed to protect the public from his love of starting fires.

Daniel Brown set fire to his own home aged nine the court heard. Credit: South Wales Police

Serial arsonist Daniel Brown, 27, got a "kick" from setting fire to the historic Capel Aberfan which was once used as a mortuary for pupils killed in the 1966 school disaster.

Brown caused more than £500,000 worth of damage to the chapel built in 1876 as he watched it burn.

His arson attack gutted the church including destroying the £40,000 church organ given by the Queen.

The chapel was gutted by the fire. Credit: Phillip Bunce

Brown admitted getting a thrill from arson after setting fire to his own home when he was just nine years old - and got "a kick" to see the fire service turn up at a series of fires.

Prosecutor Rachel Knight said Brown turned to his love of arson as he walked home from a night into a village social club. He set fire to a wheelie bin and rang 999 himself - but was "disappointed" when neighbours put it out before fire crews arrived.

Less than two hours later fire officers were called back to tackle the chapel blaze.

The chapel was locked but they were approached by Brown, claiming to be the caretaker.

– Prosecutor Rachel Knight
The chapel in Aberfan before the blaze. Credit: Google Street View

Brown had a set of keys for the chapel because he was a voluntary cleaner - and he had sneaked in to set fire to a dust sheet before walking home.

Miss Knight said: "The fire was completely out of control. The roof became well alight and quickly collapsed."

Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court heard the community was "furious and despondent with the chapel's demise and that an important part of their history had been destroyed."

Brown told police: "I don't know why I did it. It just got out of control. I love that church. I set fire to my house in Aberdare when I was nine. I need help."

Brown was also arrested for an unsolved arson attack on a Pounstretcher store in Pentrebach, Merthyr Tydfil in 2009. His DNA was found on cigarette butts outside the blaze.

Brown, of Nixonville, Merthyr Vale, admitted arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered and two counts of arson.

He was given a 10-year extended sentence for public protection - a five-year custodial sentence and a five-year extended licence.