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- Sandhill Park fire was started in November 2011
- Liam Grant, Nathan Goldfinch, Stuart Walker and Marcus Tancock jailed
- All four men pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing at Taunton Crown Court
SPEAKING after the sentencing, the investigating office DC Kevin Pellow said: "This was a catastrophic attack on a house which has played a significant part in the history of Bishops Lydeard.
"These four men planned the fire and went to Sandhill Park intent on setting fire to the building. I am certain these men knew what they were doing and the impact their actions would have.
"This fire was thoroughly investigated and all four people responsible were arrested within a week.
"Today they must finally face up to their actions and I hope their situation makes others think twice about setting fires deliberately."
Veryan Heal, of English Heritage, said: "Sandhill Park is a precious piece of the nation's heritage that could have easily suffered total destruction as a result of this arson attack.
"At the time of the fire, the building was already considered 'at risk' and it remains uncertain whether the exquisite ornate 18th Century plaster ceilings inside the house can be saved or not.
"People who target historic buildings are threatening a unique part of the country's heritage and it is only right that this is taken into account when they are brought to justice.
"We are working to raise awareness of heritage crime in its various forms, and we are pleased that the judge has taken account of the wider cultural impact in his sentencing.
"We hope this may serve as a deterrent to others who have little respect for England's built heritage."
THE police have released these photographs of Sandhill Park taken before and after the arson attack.
BISHOPS Lydeard councillor Mike Rigby offered a reward for information leading to the offenders following the fire in November 2011.
Speaking after the sentencing today, he said: "While it’s hard on the future prospects of these young lads, there really was no alternative to custodial sentences.
"They have caused a huge financial loss to the owners and their insurers not to mention the major loss of heritage suffered by the village.
"A deterrent needed to be shown. We all now hope that a permanent use can be secured for what is a Grade-II listed Building of major significance."
Tears in the gallery as the four men are taken down to the cells.— @GazetteMMarsh 28 February 2013
ALL four men who pleaded guilty to arson at Sandhill Park have been jailed at Taunton Crown Court this afternoon.
Tancock has been jailed for 27mths, Goldfinch 18mths, Grant 21mths and Walter 12mths. Judge said it was "extreme case of mindless vandalism"— @GazetteMMarsh 28 February 2013
Almost everybody back in court now. Public gallery busy for this one.— @GazetteMMarsh 28 February 2013
They are aged 20, 20, 19 and 23 respectively.— @GazetteMMarsh 28 February 2013
Marcus Tancock and Nathan Goldfinch, both of Weston, Liam Grant of Cheddar and Stuart Walter of Lympsham, will learn their fate shortly.— @GazetteMMarsh 28 February 2013
Back at Taunton Crown Court for sentencing of four men who set fire to the Sandhill Park mansion in Bishops Lydeard in Nov 2011— @GazetteMMarsh 28 February 2013
THE sentencing exercise at Taunton Crown Court has been adjourned for a lunch break and will reconvene at 2pm.
It's not clear whether petrol was the cause of the fire but it combusted at some stage.— @GazetteMMarsh 28 February 2013
Court hears petrol was driven to site and carried to mansion. One man started the fire in the east wing while the other three kept lookout.— @GazetteMMarsh 28 February 2013
Cost to repair and restore Grade-II listed building could be anything up to £10m, prosecutor tells court.— @GazetteMMarsh 28 February 2013
I'm at Taunton Crown Court for the sentencing of four men who set fire to the historic Sandhill Park mansion, Bishops Lydeard, in Nov 2011— @GazetteMMarsh 28 February 2013
THE cost of repairing and restoring the damage caused at Sandhill Park could be up to £10milion, the court has heard.
THE case at Taunton Crown Court is under way.
FOUR men are to face sentence today over a fire which caused £1million damage at an historic mansion in Taunton Deane.
The fire, at the Grade II-listed Sandhill Park in Bishops Lydeard, broke out on November 22, 2011.
Marcus Tancock and Nathan Goldfinch, both of Weston, Liam Grant of Cheddar and Stuart Walter of Lympsham, are appearing at Taunton Crown Court for sentence.
Check back to this story later for the outcome of the case.
BACKGROUND: More than 50 firefighters tackled the blaze at the derelict mansion, which was built in 1720 and was used by American troops as a hospital during the Second World War.
The fire was so severe crews had to fetch water from a pond almost a mile away to tackle the flames.
At the time of the blaze, Bishops Lydeard parish councillor Mike Rigby said: “People in the village are very upset a big part of our history has been damaged.”