THE man who was given a caution for setting fire to the former Accrington Conservative Club on the day of the Queen’s visit had already served a five-year prison sentence for arson.

Blackburn magistrates heard Colin Peter Andrews was a vulnerable individual, who blamed bullying for his behaviour.

Andrews, 39, of Whalley Road, Accrington, pleaded guilty to arson at Tinkerbrook Nursery, Oswaldtwistle, resulting in damage to trailers, a pull truck, a polly tunnel, and plants, to a total value of £1,170, and asked for four other offences of arson to be taken into consideration.

He was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for two years, and made subject to community supervision for two years.

He was also ordered to pay £700 compensation to Tinkerbrook Nursery, which is run by the NHS.

Catherine Allan, prosecuting, said Andrews had used the facilities at the nursery, and suspicion fell on him because the manager knew he had a fascination with fire. Andrews told police he was being bullied, and this was his way of dealing with his issues.

He went on to tell police about the four other instances of arson, which included setting fire to a park bench, an industrial unit, and a garage.

Stephen Barker, defending, said Andrews had co-operated with the police as best he could.

He blamed bullying by someone on the street for the fire at Accrington Conservative Club, and prior to the fire at Tinkerbrook Nursery he had fallen out with the manager.

“Other incidents trigger him setting fires, but he doesn’t intend them to spread,” said Mr Barker.

“He leaves the area straight away and doesn’t get any excitement from the reaction of the emergency services.”

Mr Barker said Creative Support, the organisation working with Andrews, was hopeful that if he retained his liberty it would be able to help him.