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Carpet boss told to pay on car fiddle; Payback order or face more time in prison.

Byline: BEN ROSSINGTON

A DEBT-RIDDEN carpet firm boss who torched his own warehouse for an insurance pay-out was warned he could face extra time behind bars.

Floorcoverings Ltd managing director Elliot Ross was jailed for five-and-a-half years last year after a "tsunami of fire" ripped through his premises at Knowsley industrial estate, in Kirkby.

Ross's trial at Liverpool crown court heard the company was in a "dire" financial situation and after the blaze the 49-year-old was in line for a pounds 200,000 compensation pay-out before an investigation by Flare, Merseyside's joint police and fire brigade unit.

He was awarded more than pounds 15,000 by Co-operative Insurance for cars which were destroyed after they were left parked inside.

At Liverpool crown court this week Ross, of Sudley Grange, Aigburth, was brought from prison for a hearing under the Proceeds Of Crime Act.

Financial investigators from Merseyside police's economic crime team put together a case and a judge ordered Ross to pay back the pounds 15,172 he received for the cars.

He was told he has six months to pay or he will spend an extra nine months in prison.

The "catastrophic" fire, in August 2009, was caused by three disposable barbecues set around the edge of the building.

More than 60 firefighters fought to contain the blaze when the warehouse went up just after 9pm on Wednesday August 19, 2009.

The premises were gutted and a pallet firm next door also severely damaged. Five other businesses on the estate were also hit by the flames.

Firefighters needed 12 fire engines and 10 support stations to tackle the blaze from Bradman Road and Acornfield Road.

Ross was convicted of arson and two counts of fraud.

Judge Gerald Clifton told Ross his crimes were particularly serious, not only because of the potential loss to his insurers, but also because of the effect on neighbouring businesses.

The final bill for the fire topped pounds 500,000, the court was told.

A spokesman for Co-op Insurance said: "We take the issue of fraudulent claiming extremely seriously and will always seek to work with the police on such matters."

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SHAMED: Elliott Ross, 49, was jailed after a trial last year
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 4, 2012
Words:369
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