Man burned down nightclub to stop them asking for Covid passports 5 months ago

Man burned down nightclub to stop them asking for Covid passports

Owen Marshall was jailed Wednesday as the PM announced vaccine passports would come into force

A man ''obsessed'' with pandemic restrictions burned down a nightclub to stop it from asking for Covid passports.

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Owen Marshall set fire to a petrol-soaked towel and posted it through the letterbox of club SWX in Bristol before writing letters warning that other clubs would be targeted.

As part of measures to curb the spread of the Omicron variant, Boris Johnson on Wednesday announced England would move to 'Plan B' which includes Covid passes being required in nightclubs and venues where large crowds gather in England from next week.

Read more: 'Plan B' Covid measures to come into force in England from Monday, PM confirms

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Marshall later delivered a letter to the home of Bristol Mayor, Marvin Rees, in which he admitted the arson and said it should serve as a warning to other venues.

The 29-year-old later threw a brick through the window of the Barley Mow pub with a note attached claiming vaccine passports were a breach of human rights.

Then on August 2 this year Bristol nightclub, Lakota received a handwritten note saying it would “sustain substantial damage like SWX” if it introduced Covid passports.

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Officers tracked the movements of a man seen starting the SWX fire back to a shop where Marshall had bought a box of matches.

Following a public appeal, he was identified and arrested.

Marshall pleaded guilty to charges of arson being reckless as to whether life is endangered, criminal damage, and making threats to cause criminal damage at a hearing at Bristol Crown Court in September.

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On Wednesday, he was jailed for six years.

PC David Stevenson said Marshall's actions were motivated by the "completely misguided belief the venues he targeted were about to introduce" Covid vaccine passports.

He said: “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."

Stevenson said staff had been at the venue just hours earlier and could "easily still have been inside" when Marshall set it on fire which resulted in hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of damage and lost revenue.

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“These were businesses which had all suffered as 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," he said.

More than 130 fire service personnel were also put at risk tackling the resulting blaze, Stevenson added.