Students sent to prison for flats fire

TWO Sheffield University students who caused a fire at their halls of residence while “hopelessly and pathetically drunk” are starting two-year prison sentences.

The judge said he was jailing Daniel Gyi, aged 21, and Joshua Hart, 20, “with a heavy heart, knowing the sorrow and grief it will cause to your families”.

Sheffield Crown Court heard that the students threw a television off the top of student flats in Endcliffe last June. The front part broke off and they took this inside, before setting fire to a chair and putting the television in the oven.

When thick smoke started pouring from the oven, instead of alerting fellow students, the pair panicked, turned off the oven, put plastic carrier bags over smoke alarms and fled. The blaze caused £13,000 of damage. Five girls asleep in a neighbouring flat escaped unharmed but told police they feared for their lives.

Gyi and Hart returned an hour later to find firefighters at the scene and initially lied about their involvement. In court, the men, both of Cobden View Road, Crookes, admitted causing criminal damage being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

Peter McCartney, defending, said it was a “stupid, foolish student prank” and urged the judge not to jail them. He said they were from good families, had excellent academic records and glowing references, both were “full of remorse” and neither would trouble the courts again.

But Judge Peter Kelson QC told them: “You got hopelessly and pathetically drunk and then set about appalling behaviour. You absented yourselves to avoid detection and you had no regard whatsoever to the danger caused to the seven other people in the flats.

“Doing the best I can to balance everything and with a heavy heart, knowing the sorrow and grief it will cause to your families, I sentence you both to an immediate custodial sentence of two years.”