SWX arsonist jailed for 6 years, wanted to burn down Lakota as well

Owen Marshall was motivated by his fear venues were about to introduce Covid vaccine passports

The man who set fire to SWX in July has been jailed for six years, after pleading guilty to three separate charges.

Firestarter, Owen Marshall, posted a petrol soaked towel through the letterbox of popular student nightclub, SWX, because he feared the venue would introduce Covid vaccine passports.

He also threatened Lakota, sending a letter to the club saying they would “sustain substantial damage like SWX” if it introduced Covid passports.

Police said he was lucky to only be charged with criminal damage as staff had been in the building just hours before getting the venue ready for its planned reopening on 19th July.

Marshall has pled guilty to three separate charges or arson, criminal damage and threats of criminal damage.

He was “obsessed” with Covid restrictions and falsely believed clubs were about to introduce Covid vaccine passports.

Alongside the fire he started at SWX, he also threw a brick through the window of Bristol pub, the Barley Mow, attaching a note claiming vaccine passports were a breach of human rights.

Police said that Marshall was obsessive and reckless, and that it was only through “sheer luck” that no one was physically harmed.

It took over 130 fire service personnel to put out the huge blaze.

Owen Marshall buying matches before the arson attack

Investigating officer PC David Stevenson said: “Owen Mashall’s actions were motivated by the completely misguided belief the venues he targeted were about to introduce Covid vaccine passports.

“His obsession with Covid restrictions ultimately led him to carrying out the extremely reckless attack on SWX and it is only through sheer luck no one was physically harmed.

“Staff had been at the venue just hours before and they could easily still have been inside when he used an accelerant to start the fire.

“More than 130 fire service personnel were also put at risk tackling the resulting blaze which took several hours to extinguish.”

He added: “The attack has had a devastating impact on the club and the three businesses based below it with hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage and lost revenue caused.

“These were businesses which had all suffered as a result of the pandemic and which were looking forward to serving their community once more only for their livelihoods to again be put in jeopardy.

“While Marshall has never explained his actions, I am pleased he ultimately accepted responsibility as it negated the need for a trial.”

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