A 42-year-old has been found guilty of burning down one of the best known landmarks in Dunstable – after being named by an alert newspaper reader.
Richard Waters started a fire that completely destroyed the thatched Norman King pub last August.
He was caught when an eagle - eyed reader of our sister paper, the LD Express, identified him to police.
On Thursday, Waters, of Western Way, Dunstable, was facing a long sentence after a jury at Luton Crown Court convicted him of arson, being reckless as to whether life would be endangered.
Sentence on Waters, who pleaded not guilty, was adjourned to August for reports, including a psychiatric report.
The jury heard how in August of last year the Grade II listed building was in the process of being refurbished and was closed.
CCTV cameras were installed at the premises as a security measure following a failed arson attempt earlier that month.
Will Noble, prosecuting, said the fire started around midnight and led to 50 people from neighbouring houses and the Old Palace Lodge Hotel next door being evacuated.
Images from the CCTV hard drive showed a man with shoulder length scruffy hair in a ponytail sit down on a step at the front of the Norman King before rolling a cigarette and lighting it. The man struggled to get to his feet and then crouched down again.
The jury was told he then took a swig from a bottle, glanced up at the roof and moved away, returning six minutes later.
Police also had sightings of the man they claimed to be the arsonist leaving the nearby Nag’s Head minutes before the fire started.
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