Man given life sentence as historical Bristol buildings torched after he started a fire in a boat yard

Robert Boyd-Stevenson deliberately started the fire at Underfall boat yard in May, with the blaze causing millions of pounds worth of damage
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A man has been given a life sentence after he deliberately set fire to a boatyard - which in turn caused millions of pounds worth of damage to historical buildings.

Robert Boyd-Stevenson, 46, set the fire at the Underfall boat yard in May this year, getting in to the site near Cumberland Road. Emergency services were called just after midnight on Saturday, May 5, with more than 20 people who lived near the boatyard evacuated because to the smoke.

The fire spread quickly, with small buildings and businesses damaged, as well as two privately-owned boats. It is believed that the damage done may cost millions to repair, as well as taking several years to complete.

Boyd-Stevenson pleaded guilty to one count of arson with recklessness as to whether life was endangered. His sentencing took place at Bristol Crown Court, where he was given a life sentence with a minimum term of six years.

If he is released, he will be released on licence. Judge Martin Picton described Boyd-Stevenson as a dangerous individual, citing his previous convictions and the knowledge this would have given him on how harmful the blaze would be.

Detective Sergeant Lisa Jones said: “The seriousness of the fire cannot be underestimated. On another day, Robert Boyd-Stevenson could have seriously injured or killed someone. A huge amount of resources had to be deployed by emergency services on the night in question to protect public safety and surrounding properties to stop the blaze spreading, all of which could have been spent tackling other incidents but for Boyd-Stevenson’s recklessness. We worked closely with fire investigators from the outset as well as those at Underfall and we were able to arrest the perpetrator within 24 hours, which is a testament to the hard work put in by officers during a busy bank holiday weekend.”

Det Sgt Jones added: “While today sees the criminal proceedings come to a conclusion, it would be wrong not to highlight the ongoing financial and emotional distress that is felt by those people who have had decades of hard labour snatched away from them. As well as the damage to historic buildings of local and national heritage, many of them have lost irreplaceable prized possessions and it is sobering to hear the impact this crime has had on them. I would like to take this opportunity in thanking the local community of Underfall Yard, as well as the residents of Avon Crescent, for their patience and their strength in dealing with their personal loss and that of this city.”

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