Man torched cars

A MAN branded a ‘public menace’ has been found guilty of torching three cars.

Keith Barrass, 21, of Ravensmede, Alnwick, was convicted by a jury at Newcastle Crown Court last week.

The two-day trial heard that Barrass had been out drinking before each of the attacks, which took place over a seven-week period, between August 1 and September 16 last year.

Prosecuting, Roderick Hunt told the court Barrass started each fire in the same way, in the wheel arch of the car. All happened in the early hours and Barrass was involved in calling the fire brigade for each of them.

“The coincidences in the case go on and on,” Mr Hunt said. “This man wasn’t patrolling the streets of Alnwick as some kind of public rescuer, he was patrolling the streets of Alnwick as a public menace.”

The first attack happened just after 1am on Monday, August 1, when a Fiat Punto on Barrass’ street was set ablaze.

Next a Ford Mondeo, parked at the entrance to Ford Motorcare on South Road in Alnwick was torched, at around 3.45am on Friday, August 20. A Rover 45, parked on Lisburn Street, was the last to be set alight by Barras at around 2.50am on Friday, September 16.

Mr Hunt told the court that Barrass had been drinking prior to each of the attacks.

Defending Peter Sabiston said Barrass had ‘neither the means nor motive’ to start these fires. He said: “Alnwick is not a big place, anybody who set these fires could be living close by. It was someone else.”

Barrass was found not guilty of a fourth count of arson. He will be sentenced in July.