Arsonist who set fire to homeless man's bedding and caused £150,000 loss to Worthing store is jailed

A woman who set fire to a well-known homeless man's bedding in Worthing in a 'shocking' attack has been jailed for arson.

The blaze that Lyndsay Dewey started in Montague Street in October last year destroyed nearly everything that popular busker Graham Sawyer owned.

Lyndsay Dewey appeared in court today for sentencing. Picture: Sussex Police

Lyndsay Dewey appeared in court today for sentencing. Picture: Sussex Police

The fire also spread to the Laura Ashley store and caused a staggering £150,000 loss to the company, a court heard today.

Dewey, 41, of no fixed address, appeared at Lewes Crown Court this morning for sentencing after pleading guilty to two counts of arson at a previous hearing.

Prosecutor Naomi Edwards said: "Graham Sawyer is a homeless male who would sleep outside of a shop in Worthing, Laura Ashley.

"He and the defendant have been known to each other for about three years."

The woman set fire to the man's bedding and the flames spread to the Laura Ashley store

The woman set fire to the man's bedding and the flames spread to the Laura Ashley store

READ MORE: McDonald's employee extinguishes blaze after Worthing rough sleeper's bedding 'set fire to'

The prosecutor told the court that the previous day Dewey had twice attempted to ride off on Mr Sawyer's bike without asking.

Just after midnight she was caught on CCTV moving over to Mr Sawyer's sleeping bag and setting it alight.

The fire then spread, destroying his belongings and damaging the shopfront, the prosecutor said.

Firefighters at the scene. Picture: Pavol Polacek

Firefighters at the scene. Picture: Pavol Polacek

"Staff from the McDonald's restaurant opposite used fire extinguishers to put the fire out.

"The staff at Laura Ashley say the loss there was approximately £150,000."

Simon Molyneux, defending Dewey, said that the incident was an 'escalation'.

He told the court that Dewey has had significant problems with drugs and alcohol, but that her time on remand had been helping her to get clean.

He added: "She’s clearly quite the intelligent woman although it is unfortunate that her life has just been so chaotic."

Judge Christine Laing QC, sentencing Dewey, said: "Those who have to live on the street have many difficulties to deal with, not least often abuse from other members of the public who often show intolerance as to the reasons that have caused them to be on the street.

"You yourself have spent time on the street. It is therefore a particularly shocking offence."

Judge Laing said it was a 'particularly worrying' feature of the case that Dewey appeared to have a specific issue with Mr Sawyer. She noted that Dewey has a previous conviction for attacking him.

Dewey was given credit for her guilty plea and was jailed for 32 months.

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