A man sent ‘chilling’ videos of himself setting fire to a book and threatening to burn a house down.
Macauley Stolp has been jailed for nearly four years following the incident in Cherry Holt, Newark, which was the second time he had set fire to the property.
The 25-year-old was found recording himself in the living room surrounded by large amounts of smoke at around 2.45am on 8 July 2020.
The blaze was out when police and fire officers arrived and no one was in the property.
When officers located him a few hours later he was arrested and charged in relation to the incident and also in connection to another occasion where he had made threats to set the same house on fire over FaceTime on 20 June.
Officers were called to the scene and found burn marks on the sofa but Stolp had fled the scene.
While Stolp had been remanded in custody, Nottinghamshire’s fraud team was made aware he may be the suspect in an investigation into a report of a rogue trader who had conned a 74-year-old man out of more than £16,000.
It transpired that Stolp had approached the victim at his home in West Bridgford and offered him garden services.
Without providing any formal quotes, the 25-year-old, of Cherry Holt, Newark, proceeded to erect a fence at a cost of £8,000. He then removed a pathway which didn’t need doing and demanded a further £7,000 to replace it.
The victim felt too threatened by Stolp’s aggressive behaviour to dispute the work or payment.
He was forced into withdrawing cash from his bank on a number of occasions to pay for the work carried between 11 June and 17 July 2020.
It came to light that two women, aged 81 and 57, had also been conned by Stolp’s phoney gardening services.
He was subsequently charged with two counts of arson and three counts of fraud. He pleaded guilty to the offences on 5 February and was sentenced on Wednesday (14 July) at Nottingham Crown Court to three years, eight months in prison.
Detective Sergeant Ashley Xavier, of Nottinghamshire’s fraud team, said: “Arson is an incredibly serious offence and the fact he filmed himself doing it is chilling. It is lucky no one was hurt and this could easily have been even more serious.
“Stolp acted recklessly and dangerously without any regard for anyone’s safety.
“Not only that, he also deliberately targeted elderly, vulnerable people, by conning them out of money and taking advantage of their good nature.
“He carried out despicable acts such as tearing up a pathway and demanding £7,000 to replace it. In one of the cases, the victim felt he had no other option but to withdraw cash from his bank, on a number of occasions, as he felt threatened and intimidated by Stolp’s actions.
“We’d like to thank our colleagues at Trading Standards who brought the fraud case to our attention and we are glad that it has now contributed to Stolp being held to account for his crimes.
“We don’t want people to ever feel trapped in these situations. If anyone has concerns this is happening to them or someone they know, please report it to us on 101 so we can protect people from any harm or financial loss.”