A mechanic in Essex said the ‘devastation’ caused by an arsonist who destroyed the business he had built for more than 20 years was as severe as when he was battling cancer.
It took over a year to rebuild Spanners Garage in Sedge Green, Roydon, after Mohammed Azizi destroyed two garages and nine vehicles on July 1 of last year – and it cost Â£ 250,000.
Azizi had denied any involvement, but detectives found DNA evidence on a piece of tissue intact from the fire, linking it to the arson.
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Six weeks after the first fire, Azizi set one of his neighbor’s cars on fire in Bradley Road, Waltham Abbey on August 15.
Residents tried to put out the fire by calling for help, but the Volkswagen Polo was destroyed.
CCTV showed that Azizi, 30, set the car on fire.
A jury found him guilty on June 3 of arson and arson recklessly as to whether his life would be in danger, following a trial at Chelmsford Crown Court.
Azizi, of Bradley Road, Waltham Abbey, was sentenced Friday September 24 to five years and six months in prison.
He also received an indefinite stay order, preventing him from going to any of the areas where his offenses were committed.
Speaking after the hearing, the owner of Spanners Garage said, âI have spent my whole life building my business for this one crime in order to destroy it completely – 20 years burned in one night.
âIt was just completely demoralizing and devastating. Luckily I’m a pretty strong person because I think it would have ruined a lot of people.
âIt took over a year to rebuild the business, which is a year of no income and a year of losing customers to other businesses.
âIn total, the reconstruction cost me Â£ 250,000. Of that amount, my insurance covered just over half, which meant I had to pay over Â£ 100,000 of my savings, my pension.
âI have had cancer before, however, I can say that this crime caused me as much stress as fighting it.
âI feel like I have to look over my shoulder now, especially since I don’t know why he did that. I never did anything to him, so I just don’t understand him.
Detective Inspector Kate Murray of Loughton CID said: âAzizi has consistently denied involvement in the two arson attacks, but the evidence has proven otherwise.
âWe will never know why he committed these crimes, which caused a huge emotional and financial impact on his victims and fear within the local community.
âHe clearly planned what he was going to do and spared no thought for the innocent people he targeted.
“I hope the community now feels safer that he is behind bars.”
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