Charity shop arsonist jailed for seven years. Date published: 20th December 2017 11.12am

A man who burgled and set fire to charity shops across Cheshire, the Wirral and Middlesbrough has been jailed.

Between January 2016 and May 2017 Lee Flaherty, 30, set fire to three shops; Age UK charity shop in Little Sutton, Claire House charity shop in Bromborough and a clothes shop in Middlesbrough. He also burgled another two stores in Bebbington and Bromborough.

On each occasion Flaherty would visit the stores in advance, posing as a security guard, tradesman or police officer, in order to ascertain what levels of security the stores had in place. He then returned to the shops once they had closed in order to commit his crimes.

To top it all off, Flaherty would then report the incidents to officers himself, using false details and providing fictitious information, as part of an elaborate attempt to avoid suspicion.

Thankfully officers we able to see through his lies and today, Monday 4 December, Flaherty, of Albert Road, Middlesbrough, appeared at Teeside Crown Court where he was jailed for seven years, with a 3-year extended licence, after he was convicted of arson with intent, arson, burglary and attempted burglary.

Detective Sergeant Robin Grantham from Cheshire Police said: “The actions taken by Flaherty were totally deplorable, he caused hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage and put people’s lives at risk.

“During the attack in Little Sutton Flaherty even had the audacity to speak to a resident who was living in the flat above the store just moments before he poured petrol through the window and ignited the building. It was only by pure chance that the resident went out of his flat a short time later and realised that the shop below was engulfed in flames.

“Flaherty truly believed that he was above the law and thought that by feeding officers a web of lies he would be able to escape justice. Thankfully, as a result of a thorough investigation by the team here at Ellesmere Port, along with our partners at Merseyside and Cleveland Police, he is now facing the consequences of his actions.”