Man who set fire to a Stonegate LGBT bar receives life imprisonment

By Georgina Townshend

- Last updated on GMT

Calculated attack: CCTV footage of Jason Fossett setting fire to the Two Brewers. Image provided by Metropolitan Police.
Calculated attack: CCTV footage of Jason Fossett setting fire to the Two Brewers. Image provided by Metropolitan Police.
Staff from the Clapham-based Two Brewers, owned by pubco Stonegate, have been praised for their cooperation with the police after a man set fire to the bar in a “carefully calculated attack” – the second time he has tried to torch the venue.

Jason Fossett, 46, of Portland Road, London, was sentenced at Inner London Crown Court on Friday (4 August) to life imprisonment, to serve a minimum of three years and 244 days.

He pleaded guilty to arson with intent to endanger life at the same court on Wednesday, 3 May.

According to the Metropolitan Police, in 2004 Fossett was jailed for eight years for arson with intent to endanger life after targeting the same venue.

‘Seemed to be urinating’

Jason Fossett. Image supplied by Metropolitan Police.

On 20 March at about 2.45am, the duty manager of the Two Brewers went to lock the side exit door, which leads out into Prescott Place. It was then he noticed a man in the alleyway standing near the wall “as if he was urinating”, the police said.

The manager told the man to move away from the building and he went back inside the pub. A few minutes later, the manager could smell smoke and he went outside to investigate. He then noticed a fire by the side exit door where the man he told to move away had been standing.

A routine police patrol was passing by the pub at that time and came across the fire, but the suspect had already fled the scene, said the police.

Enquiries were carried out by PC Paul Waterman, the dedicated ward officer for Clapham Town, alongside officers from Lambeth CID.

After reviewing the bar’s CCTV footage, Fossett was seen leaving the bar around 2.15 am after ordering drinks, entering the alleyway.

He was then seen stacking numerous rubbish bags against the fire exit over an 18 minute period before setting fire to the bags and leaving.

About the crime PC Waterman said: "Fossett is clearly a dangerous character who deliberately went out of his way to set fire to the bar in a carefully calculated attack.

"It was sheer luck that the fire was spotted in its early stages to prevent any further damage or anyone sustaining any injuries.

"By working with my colleagues in Lambeth CID and with the cooperation and assistance of staff from the Two Brewers, we ensured that Fossett was brought to justice and has been put behind bars.

"I hope Fossett uses his time behind bars to reflect on his actions."

Damage to the bar. Image supplied by Metropolitan Police.

Motivation ‘not clear’

Officers arrested Fossett on Monday, 3 April. At the time of his arrest he was wearing similar clothes to that of the person in the CCTV. Officers also searched his home and found a red leather satchel that matched the one on the CCTV, as well as receipts from the Two Brewers for that night.

The Police said Fossett admitted to being at the Two Brewers but claimed he could not remember anything of the evening after having a couple of drinks.

Fossett’s motivation for targeting the Two Brewers is not known, however, there is no suggestion that it was a hate crime, according to the police.

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