Man obsessed with child abuse allegations jailed for £2.4 million school arson

A man who set fire to a school and stalked teachers as part of a crusade against alleged child abuse has been jailed.

Philip Day was sentenced at Chester Crown Court to 15 years in prison with a five-year extended licence, a Cheshire Police spokesman said.

He was found guilty of two counts of stalking, arson and arson with intent to endanger life following a six-week trial.

Police said the 55-year-old, of Saltash Close, Runcorn, had stalked two teachers and set fire to the University of Chester Academy in Northwich, causing more than £2.4 million worth of damage, as well as torching a house in Saffron Walden, Essex.

In 2010, Day (pictured) made unfounded allegations about a teacher at the school, formerly known as Rudheath High School, but the claims of sexual abuse were never substantiated.

Believing there had been a cover-up, he launched a personal crusade, police said.

In the following years, he stalked the school and its staff, posting messages and videos on social media claiming children had been harmed there and warning parents at an open evening not to send their children there.

In the early hours of February 25 last year, he deliberately set fire to the school, removing roof tiles in 17 different locations and pouring petrol inside before setting it alight.

Following the incident, he was linked to the arson at the Essex house, which belonged to a man accused of abuse by a woman Day was having an affair with.

Detective Constable Paul Cundy, of Northwich CID, said: “Day’s actions were those of a dangerous and obsessive individual who took the law into his own hands and made the lives of his victims a living hell, with no regard for the consequences.

“Over an eight-year period, he subjected them to a sustained campaign of stalking and harassment.”

Damion Lloyd, of Mersey-Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Philip Day is a driven man, quoting from the Bible and using God as justification for his actions. But his campaign was misdirected and his methods unjustifiable and unlawful.

“He claimed that the school was a ‘playground for paedophiles’ yet, despite a thorough and extensive investigation by both the school and the police, no evidence was found to back this up.

“Despite his conviction for harassment, he continued to post videos on social media where he made the claims all over again.”

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Cheshire Constabulary / PA Wire.