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Last Updated: Monday, 31 January, 2005, 17:19 GMT
Ten years for killing firefighter
Christopher Raisis and Jamie Evans had denied manslaughter
Christopher Raisis and Jamie Evans had denied manslaughter
Two men have been jailed for 10 years over the death of a fireman in a bingo hall they set alight.

Richard Jenkins, 28, died from head injuries during an explosion at an old bingo hall in Ely, Cardiff, last May.

Christopher Raisis, 25, and Jamie Evans, 20, denied manslaughter but were found guilty at Cardiff Crown Court.

Along with a third man - Craig Sterio, 31, jailed for four years - they were also guilty of witness intimidation, robbery and causing actual bodily harm.

Mr Jenkins, from Bryntirion, Bridgend, had been the first firefighter to enter the burning building.
Richard Jenkins and wife Catherine
Richard Jenkins on his wedding day with wife Catherine
He suffered massive head and facial injuries when a gas canister exploded in the disused hall.

After sentencing them on Monday, Judge Mr Justice Forbes told them: "As a result of your actions of wanton vandalism Richard Jenkins has now died.

"He was a much-loved family man in the prime of his life. He was a dedicated and courageous public servant who died in the course of his public duty fighting a fire which you deliberately set.

"Your crime has devastated his family, friends and colleagues. It has caused lasting grief and sorrow. The wider public is much the poorer for losing this young man whose tragic death was brought about by your crime.

"You have shown no remorse, no regret in what you have done."

Throughout the trial, both Raisis and Evans denied starting the fatal blaze.

Raisis told the jury that he was "nowhere near" the old bingo hall and community centre, at the time of the explosion.

This guilty verdict is no consolation for the tragic loss of a husband, son, father, firefighter, colleague and friend
Brian Fraser, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service

Evans denied that he had made a phone call during which he was overheard saying "You've killed the firefighter". He insisted he only learned of the death the following day when his mother told him.

On the night of the fatal fire, he told the court he had been involved in a fight outside a pub earlier and had then been out in Ely with friends.

Mr Jenkins, had been based at Barry for 18 months after joining the South Wales Fire and Rescue Service in 2002.

He left a widow, Catherine, and two young children Conor and Charlotte.

Responding to the verdict, Chief Fire Officer Brian Fraser from South Wales Fire and Rescue Service said the decision brought "some justice to this terrible event".

"As always, our thoughts remain with Richard's family. This guilty verdict is no consolation for the tragic loss of a husband, son, father, firefighter, colleague and friend."

He added the verdict should send "a stark message" to potential arsonists.


SEE ALSO:
Firefighter 'achieved so much'
31 Jan 05 |  South East Wales


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