INVESTIGATIONS by West Yorkshire Fire Service last year led to six people being handed a total of 81 years' in prison.

At its most recent meeting West Yorkshire Fire Authority were given an update on all the arson cases the service's fire investigators had been involved with in the 2019/20 financial year.

The Fire Investigation Team are called to any suspicious fires, and determine whether the cause was deliberate. They are often called on to give evidence in court if these cases then progress to trial.

The Authority's Community Safety Committee met on Friday and heard that in the 2019/20 financial year, officers investigated the origin, cause and development of fire in 184 incidents.

This has led to eight convictions, including one that was saw a man responsible for a house fire in Leeds handed a hospital order, and others that saw the offenders imprisoned.

This included a case in Dewsbury where three men battered their friend, Jonathan Dews, to death then set fire to his house in a bid to cover up the murder.

A Bradford case saw Paul Hegney sentenced to 20 months after being found guilty of reckless arson. He had used lighter fluid to ignite a pile of clothes on the bed at his Incommunities home in Nottingham Road, Tyersal, on April 11 2019.

Arsonist Paul Hegney thought he'd killed his cat

At his court case it was heard Hegney was due to be evicted from the flat when he set it on fire.

A number of cases are awaiting a court date.

Leeds Councillor David Jenkins (Lab, Killingbeck and Seacroft) asked officers if the Committee could have a breakdown of arson cases where mental health may be a factor.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer - Dave Walton said it was not appropriate for fire investigators to determine the mental health of whoever was behind the fire. He added: "It is not our role to determine if a mental health condition is at play.

"It may be proven as part of a court case, but I don't want my crews to make educated guesses as to someone's mental health. It isn't appropriate."