Michael Leverton - the man obsessed with fire
An arsonist "fascinated" by fire has been jailed indefinitely.
Michael Leverton, who sparked two huge blazes in the county on the same day, will not be released from prison until officials are sure he no longer poses a threat to the public.
The 50-year-old torched a large barn at Moat Farm, in Glooston, near Harborough, at 8.40pm on November 17 last year, then stood and watched as flames engulfed the structure.
The fire caused more than £100,000 of damage, destroying tractors and farming equipment, while neighbours rushed to rescue horses from a stable next to the blazing barn.
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Later that night, Leverton started a second fire less than a mile away, in Stonton Wyville, destroying a barn and thousands of pounds' worth of straw.
Leverton, pictured, who has previous convictions for starting blazes, admitted two counts of arson being reckless as to whether life was in danger.
Jailing him at Leicester Crown Court yesterday, Judge Simon Hammond said: "This man will not be released until he is considered to no longer be a risk to the public. I anticipate he may never be released."
Adrian Harris, prosecuting, said Leverton had been seen in the tiny village of Glooston three days before the blaze.
He was seen again less than two hours before the fire was started, visiting the Old Barn Pub across the road.
Mr Harris said a couple living next to the barn went out after hearing distressed horses.
"They saw that the barn was on fire," he said. "Their horse was kept next to the barn, and they managed to rescue it before calling 999."
The barn owner, who was in the pub, was alerted when his daughter ran in.
"It was well ablaze," said Mr Harris. "He desperately searched for the keys to one of his tractors before it caught light, but it was too late."
Leverton watched the fire – which involved 100 tons of fertiliser and gas cylinders – before walking towards Stonton Wyville. There, at about 9.30pm, another barn was discovered on fire.
He was seen by police less than a mile away and was arrested after giving a false name.
Officers went to his home at Acorn Close Care Centre in Shepshed – for people with mental health issues – and found newspaper cuttings about fires and a tape with recordings of radio reports about fires on it.
The court was told that staff at the centre said Leverton had a "fascination with fire".
In June 1982, Leverton was given a suspended sentence for criminal damage, through fire.
Seven months later, he breached that when he caused £25,000 of damage to a dairy in Ashby. He was given a hospital order and released in 2009.
In mitigation for the latest offences, James House, defending, said his client had pleaded guilty and suffered from multiple sclerosis .
"He had little in common with others at the (Acorn) centre and I am afraid boredom led to him going out and about in the country," Mr House said.
The defence did not present a psychiatric report to the court.
Judge Hammond gave him a public protection sentence, jailing him indefinitely with a minimum term of four years.