Serial Mexborough arsonist locked up for public safety

Convicted - James Wrzos
Convicted - James Wrzos

A serial arsonist has been locked up indefinitely for the public’s protection after a judge branded him a danger to society.

James Wrzos endangered the lives of Mexborough residents when he showed a total disregard for public safety by starting a number of blazes in the town, despite having previously served three years for trying to torch a pub as the landlord and his family slept upstairs.

Teaching assistant Claire Hurst, left, and teacher Jo Hager view the fire-hit classroom at Windhill Primary School, Mexborough. Picture: Steve Taylor.

Teaching assistant Claire Hurst, left, and teacher Jo Hager view the fire-hit classroom at Windhill Primary School, Mexborough. Picture: Steve Taylor.

His trail of destruction included £23,000 of damage to Windhill Primary School and leaving elderly residents of a sheltered housing complex terrified.

Wrzos, 22, of Hirstgate, Mexborough, even stood and videoed his handiwork at the scene but still denied the fires had anything to do with him.

Sentencing the defendant Judge Peter Kelson QC, told Wrzos that he was plainly a danger to the public and an habitual arsonist who continually denied his crimes and had a complete lack of remorse.

He added: “You have a pyromaniac fascination with fire with a complete disregard for people who may have been injured or killed as a result of your actions.”

“You have now been found to have lit four separate fires. It can only be seen as an alarming behaviour pattern.”

Sentencing, the judge said Wrzos did not suffer from a mental disorder and no psychiatric treatment was required. He ordered Wrzos must serve at least five years before he is eligible for parole.

He added: “You clearly pose a danger to the safety of the public. The public must rest assured that is the absolute minimum period. The parole board will deem if you are safe to be let out into the community.”

Craig Lowe, prosecuting, told Sheffield Crown Court was told that Wrzos set fire to a shed at a property in Edison Road, Mexborough, on the night of April 24 last year.

The next day, in Coniston Road, he placed a blazing wheelie bin next to a window of sheltered accommodation terrifying vulnerable residents. Passers by alerted fire crews.

Moments later, he started a fire at Windhill Primary, damaging floors ceilings and teaching apparatus.

Luckily firefighters dealing with another incident spotted the blaze and managed to stop it spreading.

A police officer who arrived at the scene stopped and spoke to Wrzos.

“He was looking over his shoulder, gazing intently at the fire - he couldn’t take his eyes off it,” Mr Lowe said.

At an earlier trial Wrzos was found guilty of two counts of arson and one of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

The court heard that Wrzos had committed the offences just three months after serving a three year sentence for an arson attack on the Star Inn in Mexborough. In that incident he had used turpentine to set fire to the front door of the pub in Harlington Road, as landlord Desmond Smith, his wife and three children slept in a bedroom.

Fortunately nobody was injured in the blaze.