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Arsonist got 'kick' out of torching historic chapel.

Byline: Wales News Service

A PYROMANIAC who destroyed an South Wales chapel has been jailed to protect the public from his love of starting fires.

Serial arsonist Daniel Brown, 27, got a "kick" from setting fire to the historic Capel Aberfan which was used as a makeshift mortuary for pupils killed in the 1966 school disaster.

Brown caused more than PS500,000 worth of damage to the chapel, which was built in 1876, as he watched it burn.

His arson attack gutted the property.

Brown admitted getting a thrill from arson after setting fire to his own home when he was just nine years old - and got "a kick" to see the fire service turn up at a series of fires.

Prosecutor Rachel Knight said Brown turned to his love of arson as he walked home from a night in a village social club.

He set fire to a wheelie bin and rang 999 himself - but was "disappointed" when neighbours put it out before fire crews arrived.

Miss Knight said: "Less than two hours later fire officers were called back to tackle the chapel blaze.

"The chapel was locked but they were approached by Brown, claiming to be the caretaker."

Brown had a set of keys for the chapel because he was a voluntary cleaner - and he had sneaked in to set fire to a dust sheet before walking home.

Miss Knight said: "The fire was completely out of control. The roof became well alight and quickly collapsed."

Also lost in the fire in July of last year was a pulpit worth PS15,000, which was due to be sold to an American buyer to raise funds for the building.

The chapel has an important link to the Aberfan disaster which happened on October 21, 1966, when a coal waste tip slid down a mountain and engulfed Plant Glas Junior School and surrounding houses, killing 144 people including 116 children.

Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court was told the community was "furious and despondent with the chapel's demise and that an important part of their history had been destroyed".

Brown told police: "I don't know why I did it. It just got out of control. I love that church. I set fire to my house in Aberdare when I was nine. I need help."

He made further admissions in interview that he had "a kick" out of seeing the emergency services arrive.

"He told the police he was a Christian and attended weekly prayer meetings," said Ms Knight.

Lucy Crowther, defending, said Brown had been visited by Pastor David Pritchard in prison.

"He has given him a huge amount of comfort and forgiveness," she said.

Brown was also arrested for an unsolved arson attack on a Poundstretcher store in Pentrebach, Merthyr Tydfil, in 2009. His DNA was found on cigarette butts outside the blaze.

Brown, of Nixonville, Merthyr Vale, admitted arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered and two counts of arson.

He was given a 10-year extended sentence for public protection - a fiveyear custodial sentence and a five-year extended licence.

Judge Richard Twomlow said: "It was a building that was priceless to the community and there was understandable outrage and grief.

"An important part of the history of Aberfan has been irretrievably lost."


Brown got a 'kick' from setting fire to the chapel

Daniel Brown has been jailed for starting the fire which destroyed Capel Aberfan
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 25, 2016
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