Four men jailed over arson attack on Sandhill Park mansion in Bishop's Lydeard
Four men have been sentenced to jail after setting fire to a derelict mansion in Bishop's Lydeard.
Marcus Tancock, 20, and Nathan Goldfinch,20, from Weston-super-Mare, Liam Grant, 19, from Cheddar and Stuart Walter, 23, from Lympsham, have been sentenced to jail for committing arson at Sandhill Park mansion.
In November 2011 more than 50 firefighters and six fire engines tackled the massive blaze at the 293-year-old Grade II mansion which was used as a hospital by American troops during the Second World War.
The blaze was so relentless, fire crews were forced to tackle the flames using water they fetched from a pond almost a mile away.
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It took fire crews nearly 12 hours to extinguish the blaze.
The cost of repairing and restoring the damage caused at Sandhill Park is estimated to cost up to £10milion.
Tancock has been jailed for 27 months, Goldfinch 18 months, Grant 21 months and Walter 12 months.
The judge described the crime as an "extreme case of mindless vandalism".
Speaking after the sentencing, the investigating officer DC Kevin Pellow said: "This was a catastrophic attack on a house which has played a significant part in the history of Bishops Lydeard.
"These four men planned the fire and went to Sandhill Park intent on setting fire to the building. I am certain these men knew what they were doing and the impact their actions would have.
"This fire was thoroughly investigated and all four people responsible were arrested within a week. Today they must finally face up to their actions and I hope that their situation makes others think twice about setting fires deliberately."
In passing the sentence, the judge took into account an impact statement from English Heritage who strive to protect the country's listed buildings.
Veryan Heal, acting planning and conservation director at English Heritage in the South West, said: "Sandhill Park is a precious piece of the nation's heritage that could have easily suffered total destruction as a result of this arson attack.
"At the time of the fire, the building was already considered to be 'at risk' and it remains uncertain whether the exquisite ornate 18th century plaster ceilings inside the house can be saved or not.
"People who target historic buildings are threatening a unique part of the country's heritage and it is only right that this is taken into account when they are brought to justice.
"We are working to raise awareness of heritage crime in its various forms, and we are pleased that the judge has taken account of the wider cultural impact in his sentencing.
"We hope that this may serve as a deterrent to others who have little respect for England's built heritage."