A DRUNKEN arsonist who set fire to a homeless shelter has been jailed.

Christopher Delooze started a blaze at the sheltered accommodation in Whitecross where he was living while dozens of people were inside.

The 28-year-old, of no fixed address, was handed seven years behind bars this afternoon, Thursday, after admitting arson being reckless to whether life was endangered.

Liverpool Crown Court heard that the defendant was intoxicated with alcohol on the night of the fire in December last year and was told to go to bed to ‘sleep it off’ at around 5pm by a member of staff at the hostel, Haven House on Lovely Lane.

Shortly after 10pm, a fire alarm at the property was set off and smoke could be seen coming from Delooze’s room.

The 27 residents and employees at the charity-run shelter were evacuated and Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service were called to attend.

Having fled the premises after starting the blaze, the firebug returned to the scene and appeared to be ‘quite panicked’.

Delooze claimed that another resident he had been with – and who was charged with arson in relation to the case but later acquitted – had caused the fire, while this friend stated that the alcoholic had started it using a can of deodorant.

Checks of CCTV footage inside the building revealed footage of the defendant and his co-accused shortly before the incident.

In the clip, Delooze could be heard saying: “I will blow the f***ing place up – I’ll f***ing burn it to the ground.”

The charity was left out of pocket to the tune of £8,098.48 due to the fire, a total including the damage caused to the room as well as the cost of having to put all the residents of the hostel up in a hotel for the night.

A statement read out in court on behalf of the shelter said that the arson attack had caused ‘deep unrest’ among its occupants, while one had even suffered a breakdown as a result.

Delooze has seven previous convictions for 12 offences, including one for arson in November 2018 in ‘strikingly similar circumstances’ after he set fire to a bin in the bathroom of his supported accommodation.

Sentencing, judge Robert Trevor-Jones said: “You set fire to your own room and then you and your associate left the building without alerting anybody to what had happened.

“It goes without saying that anybody who starts a fire runs a very serious risk that it could get out of control, posing a risk not only to the other people occupying the building but also to the dedicated fire officers.

“I do believe you are dangerous.

“There was a high risk of very serious physical or psychological harm had that fire run out of control.”

Detective constable Rob Thorpe led Cheshire Police’s investigation into the arson attack, which found that Delooze had started the fire by setting a cardboard box alight.

He said after today’s sentencing: “I am pleased that Christopher Delooze is behind bars facing the consequences of his actions.

“He has a previous conviction for arson and on the night of Tuesday, December 17, he deliberately set fire to his room at sheltered accommodation whilst under the influence of alcohol and then fled without raising the alarm.

“There were 29 other people inside the building at the time.

“The fire caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to the room and forced the residents to be moved to alternative accommodation, but thankfully no-one was injured – the consequences of this incident could have been far worse.

“Delooze was captured on CCTV footage threatening to burn the building ‘to the ground’ shortly before the fire was set.

“He was also captured fleeing his room around the time that the fire was started.

“Yet Delooze refused to accept responsibility for his actions until the 11th hour, instead attempting to pin the blame on another resident.

“The strength of the evidence we gathered against Delooze ultimately led to him having little choice other than to admit being the arsonist, and I hope that this case deters others from committing similar offences.”

Delooze, who appeared in court via video link to HMP Altcourse, was also ordered to pay a victim surcharge.

Cheshire police and crime commissioner David Keane added: “Fire spreads quickly and can put lives as well as properties in danger.

“Thankfully no-one was injured as a result of this incident, and I would like to thank the officers involved in this investigation for securing the level of evidence required to establish the identity of the arsonist and bring him to justice.”