Man, 27, guilty of Telford arson attacks
A man has been found guilty of a string of arson attacks in Telford that damaged five cars and a house.
But the jury found Omar McGowan, 27, not guilty of seven further offences of arson following a trial.
Thousands of pounds worth of damage was caused when 12 vehicles, a house and garden fences were damaged by flames and smoke in a spate of deliberate attacks in Hadley and Leegomery in the summer of 2017.
The damaged motors had either been set alight or had been parked close to the burning vehicles.
McGowan, of Aintree Close, Leegomery, always denied being to blame for any of the crimes. However, following a trial he was found guilty of four counts of arson relating to a VW Golf, a Fiat Punto, a Subaru, and a Suzuki Swift.
He was also found guilty of one count of arson reckless as to whether life was endangered relating to an attack on a Range Rover which spread to the owner’s house while it was occupied.
The jury was told that DNA tests carried out on six matchsticks found discarded at the scene in Near Vallens, Hadley, where the Suzuki and the Range Rover were hit – found that McGowan was a billion times more likely to be responsible for those fires than anyone else.
The crimes were carried out in June and July 2017.
McGowan, who has ADHD and mental health issues, was arrested after police inquiries led officers to Trench Lock Service Station where he had been captured on CCTV purchasing similar matches 25 minutes before the arson attacks in Near Vallens in July 2017.
Among the damaged cars was a £6,000 Subaru found alight in Chockleys Meadow, and a Fiat Punto, found in Hurleybrook Way, both in the early hours of June 17. A VW Golf was found alight also in Hurleybrook Way the following night.
McGowan told the jury that he sometimes used matches to light his cigarettes, but he knew nothing about any of the blazes and that someone else must have been responsible.
Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service was called out to all the incidents and following a spate of fires a major investigation was launched.
Following the trial at Shrewsbury, Judge Peter Barrie thanked the jury and said the verdicts were “well thought through” under the circumstances. He also thanked West Mercia Police for its efforts.
McGowan will be sentenced on July 5. He was granted bail.
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