one of the worst things to happen to any fire crew, is to discover that
one of their number is an arsonist.
It was quite obvious that these fires were arson, and there were suspicions as to who was responsible. On the day following the monastery fire a fireman, who had been a member of the Broadway brigade for about a year, was questioned at Evesham police station by P.C. Pratt, the Broadway constable. The fireman admitted lighting the fire at the monastery. When P.C. Pratt suggested he could also help regarding the previous two fires he replied, "All right, I did them". The fireman, aged twenty-four, appeared before Evesham magistrates on 9th February 1966. In a statement, allegedly made at the police station, he said, "Well, there are three things I can say. I started three fires - one at Miss Cook's, one at Top Farm where the animals were killed and one last night at the monastery. I started them with matches. They were all hay fires. I did this because I had the drink and I like the money". He said that he wished to make no reply to the charges at this stage. The fireman was committed for trial at Worcester Assizes on four charges; which were; maliciously setting fire to farm buildings at Broadway on January 1st, January 15th and January 29th, and with setting fire to a hay stack at one of the farms, (the monastery).
The following month, at Worcester Assizes, the fireman pleaded guilty to the charges. Mr John Field-Evans, prosecuting, said that the damage caused by the fires, all within five hundred yards of the defendant's home, amounted to £2,330. It included the destruction of farm equipment pigs and poultry. Defending, Mr Michael Pratt said that his client had an excellent record, and had not realised the fires were serious at the time. He said he did it for money- a trivial amount for a man who was earning £12 a week from his full time job. He added that he did not suffer from pyromania as he had not stopped to watch the fires. He went home, waited to be called out, then took great pleasure in putting them out. He was sentenced to fifteen months imprisonment on each charge, the sentences to run concurrently.