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A man has been convicted of arson after setting fire to the Rhino Club in Bedford Place, Southampton.
In the early hours of 13 March 2010, firefighters from St Mary's, Redbridge, Hightown and Eastleigh Fire Stations were mobilised to a fire at the Rhino Club, on the corner of Waterloo Terrace at Bedford Place, Southampton.
Upon arrival it was established that the two storey nightclub had already been evacuated and smoke was found to be issuing from the roof area. Over 30 firefighters tackled the blaze over a three hour period and crews remained at the scene until the following morning when an investigation commenced into the cause of the fire.
Further to the joint investigation involving Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service's Arson Task Force and Hampshire Constabulary on Monday (22 August 2011), Southampton Crown Court sentenced James John Cunningham to seven years imprisonment for arson. The Judge praised all the services for their action on that night.
Arson Task Force Detective Constable Mark Leonard said:
"Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and Hampshire Constabulary are absolutely committed to bring those involved in deliberate fire setting to justice. The joint agency response undertaken in relation to this incident is common to all suspected arson offences and we are understandably pleased about the outcome of this case.
"Conviction for arson in Hampshire is five times the national average. The success of this case is a timely reminder to anyone considering getting involved in deliberate acts of fire setting that they should expect a knock on the door in the future. I hope that the custodial sentence given this week is an indication of the severity of arson and will deters others from getting involved in similar acts."