Fire investigator praised by police after helping to put a reckless arsonist behind bars

A specialist fire investigator who analysed the pattern of burns at a house fire has been praised for his help in putting a reckless arsonist behind bars.

Fire starter David Kirsop was jailed for two years at Newcastle Crown Court last month after setting fire to his mother’s home in Jarrow.

The 34-year-old used petrol to torch the ground-floor flat just after midnight on January 25 this year while a neighbour was sleeping in bed upstairs.

A passer-by heroically intervened when he saw smoke bellowing from the address – waking up the neighbour and helping to bring the flames under control.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) quickly arrived on scene and within minutes they had been able to extinguish the fire.

The blaze caused more than £2,000 of damage and Kirsop was found nearby with soot on his face. He was arrested by police.

The arsonist claimed he had been running away from “people trying to kill him” and it was then that the specialist fire investigator from TWFRS stepped in.

He meticulously examined the scene and concluded from the patterns of burning, and an excavation of the floor, that the fire had been started using fuel.

Their evidence undermined the account of Kirsop and when it was presented to him at court he pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered

Now the fire investigator, who wishes to remain anonymous, has been praised for the work he carried out to help put the arsonist behind bars.

Nathan Stonehouse, Fire Investigation Technical Manager at TWFRS, said: “Our fire investigators play a crucial role in providing the interpretation of fire scenes needed to help the police and CPS put a case before the court.

“Our investigator in this case meticulously examined the damage left behind by the blaze and systematically studied every gram of the debris to identify what caused the fire.

“The burn patterns he analysed allowed him to deduce where the fire started, and his excavation allowed him to find traces of an ignitable liquid on the floor of the hallway.

“It takes a huge amount of knowledge, skill and training to be able to find evidence of a deliberate act in the aftermath of a fire and we are very proud of all of our investigators.

“We hope that results like this show the public just how valuable a role they play in taking dangerous people off the streets, and putting them behind bars.”

Chief Inspector Stu Liddell, of Northumbria Police, said: “Investigations like this rely on the excellent working relationships that we have with our emergency service partners.

“In this case, the fire service played an integral role supporting us throughout this prosecution – and I’m pleased that the severity of his crimes were reflected in this custodial sentence.”

Kirsop, of Surrey Road, Hebburn, who has 62 previous convictions, was jailed for two years at Newcastle Crown Court on September 20.

The court was told by his defence team that he had set the fire in defence against “perceived threats” because he suffered from “paranoia”.