Burglar admits arson attacks at Kent and Canterbury Hospital and Sheffield's Hilton Hotel


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The Independent Online

A burglar has pleaded guilty to deliberately starting fires at two hospitals and a hotel.

Detectives said Thomas Ashcroft, 34, of no fixed address, set fires to cause a distraction so that he could go on to commit burglaries.

He admitted arson with intent to endanger life and burglary at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital and the Hilton Hotel in Sheffield on August 30 and July 15 respectively.

At Canterbury Crown Court today, Ashcroft also pleaded guilty to one count of arson with intent to endanger life and one count of attempted burglary at the Medway Maritime Hospital in Kent on August 29.

Police said he asked for eight further matters to be taken into consideration relating to arsons and burglaries at other hospitals, hotels and a visitor attraction.

Detective Inspector Lee Whitehead, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: "Ashcroft's offending was widespread, spanning several counties.

"His motivation for fire setting appears to have been to cause sufficient distraction to commit burglaries.

"His selfish actions led to several hospitals being evacuated, putting vulnerable patients at further risk. Thankfully, no-one was injured in these incidents."

Ashcroft will be sentenced at Canterbury Crown Court on December 7.