A labourer was found guilty today of killing two young jockeys by setting light to a block of flats in a drunken revenge attack.
Peter Brown, 37, started a fire at Buckrose Court in Norton, North Yorkshire, which killed Jamie Kyne, 18, from Kiltrogue, Co Galway, Ireland, and Jan Wilson, 19, from Forfar, Scotland.
A jury at Leeds Crown Court heard drunken Brown, who is originally from the Aberdeen area of Scotland, torched the complex as an act of revenge after he was refused entry to a party in one of the flats last September.
Today he was cleared by the jury of murder but found guilty of manslaughter.
Brown, who looked at the jury foreman as the verdicts were delivered, was also acquitted of arson with intent to endanger life.
The jury of six men and six women took 13 hours to reach their verdicts.
Friends and relatives of the two victims said "yes" as the manslaughter verdicts were delivered and comforted each other in the public gallery.
Mrs Justice Nicola Davies adjourned sentence for the completion of a pre-sentence report, adding: "So I can have full information about the danger you pose."
She thanked the jury and the victim's relatives, telling the families of the two jockeys: "You have attended every day, my thanks to you for the dignity you have shown."
Jan Hills, District Crown Prosecutor for CPS North Yorkshire, said Brown's act of revenge "robbed" the families of Jan Wilson and Jamie Kyne of their loved ones and deprived the sporting world of two rising talents.
Ms Hills said: "This utterly senseless act perpetrated by Peter Brown led to the tragic death of two young people, both of whom had their whole lives and promising sporting careers ahead of them.
"In setting fire to the block of flats, he cruelly snuffed out that youthful potential, all for the sake of a perceived slight after being refused access to a party."
Ms Hills added: "We have worked closely throughout the preparation of this case with our colleagues at North Yorkshire Police and we would like to thank them for all their hard work.
"Our thoughts are now with the families of Jan and Jamie and all who knew them.
"We offer them our deepest sympathies, and we hope that today's verdict can bring them some measure of comfort."
The jury heard that Brown - who had a long-standing problem with drink - torched the block of flats next to the one where lived because he was refused entry to a party.
He worked as a caretaker in the complex and had a prickly relationship with the women who lived in the flat where the party was taking place.
The two jockeys lived on the floor above where the party had been.
The jury was told that a drunken Brown used white spirit to set light to rubbish in the stairwell after he returned from a drinking session in local pubs in the early hours of the morning.
The fire quickly took hold in the early hours of September 5 as the stairwell acted like a chimney.
Residents had to jump for their lives from windows or climb down drainpipes to escape.
Wilson and Kyne were trapped at the top of the building.
Kyne lived in the flat with fellow jockey Ian Brennan. Wilson was Brennan's girlfriend and had been staying over.
Father-of-one Brown, who is originally from the Aberdeen area, did not give evidence in his trial, which lasted just over a fortnight.
Throughout the proceedings, he sat in the dock flanked by a security guard, occasionally making notes on an A4 pad.
Following today's verdict, the two families issued a joint statement.
It said: "Peter Brown has robbed us of two wonderfully young people who had so much to live for.
"When Jan and Jamie died, a part of each one of us died with them.
"He has left us all shattered and our lives will never be the same again.
"We are pleased that he has now been held accountable for the devastating events of last September, however no punishment will ever bring Jan and Jamie back.
"They have both been denied a great future and lifestyle in a sport they loved so much and had triumphed in.
"Brown may have taken away Jan and Jamie but he cannot take away our memories.
"We would like to thank everyone involved in bringing the case to trial and ensuring that justice was done for Jan and Jamie.
"Our thanks go to everyone who has helped and supported us through the past eight months, in particular the Injured Jockeys Fund.
"We must now try to rebuild lives and ensure the memories of Jan and Jamie live on."
Kyne's parents issued a further statement after the conclusion of the 16-day trial.
Madaline Cosgrove-Kyne and Gerry Kyne said Brown had "robbed us all of a fantastic son, brother, grandson and nephew who had so much to live for".
Mrs Cosgrove-Kyne added: "When Jamie died, a part of each one of us died with him. Brown has left us all shattered and our lives will never be the same again."
"September 5 2009 was, and always will be, the worst day of my life. You never think that your child will be taken away from you.
"It is like someone has ripped my heart out, stamped all over it and then handed it back to me hardly beating.
"The pain and grief we feel constantly is unbearable. Jamie touched everyone's hearts and this was clearly shown by the overwhelming outcry of grief expressed by everyone who attended both of his funeral services."
Wilson's mother Margaret Wilson said: "She was a dream come true for us, and a gift which we were privileged to enjoy for 19 years.
"We are so very proud of Jan and all her achievements all through her short but full life, and thank all those who helped her get there and made her into the girl we miss so much.
"Any punishment won't be enough for the loss and suffering of Jamie, Jan and all their family and friends. At least he can't take away our memories."
Speaking after the case, senior investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Alan Carey said: "I am very satisfied with the guilty verdict in this extremely tragic case.
"Peter Brown has shown little or no remorse, let alone an admission of his guilt, throughout the investigation and now the trial.
"It is perhaps telling that he did not want to be confronted with questions as to what he did and why.
"The fact that he took this decision is of little comfort to Jan's and Jamie's families, who are still left wondering why the fire was started.
"Today Brown has to finally face up to the consequences of his actions."Reuse content