Forty three year old Anthony Murray from Orrell, Wigan and his co-conspirator 34 year old Gareth Collier also from Wigan have today been jailed for 60 months and 27 months respectively.
Murray received 42 months for arson and eight months for perverting the course of justice. He also received 10 months each for two cases of fraud, which will run concurrently. Collier received 27 months for arson.
Anthony Murray pleaded guilty at Liverpool Crown Court to conspiracy to commit arson, two counts of fraud and perverting the course of justice, whilst Collier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson.
Murray, who was a former employee of Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, was suspended from duty as the Watch Manager when an investigation into the offences commenced and has subsequently been dismissed.
The pair conspired to making a hoax call of a trapped male in a car causing all the Skelmersdale Fire fighters to deploy all their staff from the station whilst Collier set fire to Murray’s BMW Alpina, parked in the rear car park. Two other vehicles including a fire fighter’s personal car and a LFRS vehicle were fire damaged too.
Murray then fraudulently claimed his car insurance monies and spent the money leading to additional fraud charges and money laundering.
Murray further attempted to mislead the police investigation by sending and receiving hoax letters that he and Collier were being threatened and targeted by fictional persons. Draft copies of these handwritten hoax letters were found at Murray’s home address.
The investigation was fully supported by the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service. The offences took place between September and December 2012.
DC Adam Burke says: “We are pleased with the result. To put members of the public at risk by making a hoax call to the fire station to ensure the station was empty, whilst Collier set fire to Murray’s car is not only dangerous but completely unacceptable. He did all of this for money. He put lives at risk leaving West Lancashire vulnerable if there was a genuine need for Fire fighters. I hope it sends a warning to others that crimes of this nature are extremely serious and will not be tolerated.”
Bob Warren, Director of People and Development, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service added: “Former employee of Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, Anthony Murray, was suspended from duty when an investigation into the offences commenced and was subsequently dismissed.
“We are appalled by the criminal actions of a man who although working within a service having the core duty to protect lives and property from fire, committed arson in an attempt to defraud insurance companies.”