AN arsonist who set fire to two flats, forcing five people to be plucked to safety, has been jailed for six years.
Robert Tweedie poured petrol under the doors of a block of flats on Brookvale Avenue in north Belfast.
Then he set the petrol on fire in the communal hallway in February, 2012.
The 57-year-old, who lived in the same street, was trapped and only escaped by breaking the fence of a neighbouring property.
Police found Tweedie and a petrol canister nearby.
The firebug thug was later arrested and charged with two counts of arson and one of criminal damage.
At Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday, Judge David McFarland ordered Tweedie to spend half his sentence in jail, and half on supervised leave.
Prosecuting lawyer Rosemary Walsh revealed that at the time of the attack, Tweedie had recently been released from jail and was on probation for two other arson offences.
She also said the fire at the Brookvale Avenue properties had been “pre-planned” and the sleeping residents were not warned about the attack.
Defence lawyer Conor O’Kane told Judge David McFarland he had been instructed that another man “who was much more sinister” had been involved in setting the fires but that was dismissed by the judge.
In jailing Tweedie, Judge McFarland told him there had been “absolutely no evidence” about those claims to either the police or the jury and that it was “far too late in the day” to be claiming anyone else was involved.