A FUGITIVE arsonist who escaped to the Costa del Sol for a DECADE has been sent behind bars.
According to Portsmouth’s The News, Richard Bowman, 38, fled to Marbella in 2008 after being paid £2,500 by an unknown source to burn down a local pub.
Bowman crashed his car into the Granary Pub in Titchfield and torched it to the ground just weeks after it had appeared on Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.
One of the owners escaped death after deciding to look after their ill child rather than stay in above the pub that night.
There were no other injuries.
Bowman, of no fixed address, admitted to arson at Portsmouth Crown Court earlier this year.
While owners Nigel and Sally-Ann Nieddu saw their business empire crumble as they were wrongly accused of being behind the fire, Bowman headed to Marbella, where he remained for ten years.
A forensic investigation of the blaze revealed Bowman’s DNA resulting in a warrant being issued for his arrest.
But he continued to live a free life until the authorities caught up with him in April this year, prosecutor Matthew Pardoe told the court.
“Police went to his address and work and spoke to his girlfriend after the fire but he had disappeared,” Pardoe said.
“He left the country in February 2008 after selling his Audi TT car and went to Spain.
“He was brought back to the UK this year and pleaded guilty to the offence.”
The Granary was completely destroyed by the blaze and with the insurance company refusing to pay out the £800,000 cost to repair the building it was left to the Nieddu owners to foot the bill.
“With the couple being falsely accused of an insurance job it stopped them receiving any remuneration they were due,” Pardoe added.
Mrs Nieddu’s victim impact statement read out in court said: “I feel very lucky to be alive as I was due to stay there but decided not to after my son was poorly.
“If we had of stayed there then we would probably be dead.
“Suddenly we were trying to fend off the bank, insurance company, local authorities and even travellers who had started using the premises.”
“Our 26 year marriage broke down after we became different people.”
Daniel Reilly, defending, said Bowman was remorseful and was now a transformed man who has been accepted to work as a listener for the Samaritans while in jail.
A prison officer, where Bowman has been remanded, described him as ‘polite, courteous with excellent behaviour who coaches other peers how to improve’.
A letter from the defendant read out, said: “I would like to apologise for the hurt I caused all those years ago.”