Man jailed for fire attacks on temple and church

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Paul Johnson, who was said to have “issues” with religion, used petrol to ignite the doors of Edinburgh’s

Guru Nanak Sikh Temple and Leith Methodist Church this summer.

He told police he wanted to watch the premises burn down, confessing to officers: “I did it.”

Johnson, 49, admitted two charges of wilful fire-raising, aggravated by religious prejudice, on August 28 when he appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh last month.

Returning to the court for sentencing on Thursday, judge Lord Boyd described Johnson’s actions as “reckless and wicked”.

He said Johnson appeared to have a “grudge” against religion or religious authority in general, rather than a prejudice against one particular group.

The court heard how during the attack on the Sikh temple, smoke entered the building and put the lives of those inside at risk.

The attack was only carried out when unemployed Johnson happened to come across the building.

The court heard that on the evening of August 27, Johnson bought a container and then fuel worth £3.51 from a local petrol station.

Shortly before 5am on August 28, a man heading to the temple to pray spotted fire had taken hold on one side of one of the doors and immediately raised the alarm with a man sleeping inside in the family quarters.

The fire service was then alerted and 11 firefighters attended to bring the blaze under control.

Around a couple of hours…

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