Landlord posted ‘you don’t want to miss this’ message before burning down pub

A landlord who posted that “you don’t want to miss this” on Facebook just hours before he torched his Grade II-listed boozer in a suicide bid has been jailed.

Timothy Sharp, 55, started 12 separate fires on the ground floor of his Yorkshire Dales pub after his partner left him.

But his bid to take his own life failed after he was rescued from the blazing roof of The Old Swan, Gargrave, by a group of firefighters who risked their own lives.

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Bradford Crown Court heard yesterday how he tried to kill himself in July 2020 after he’d split up with this partner.

After he lit the fires, Sharp headed to the roof with a Stanley knife. By the time the first of the six fire crews arrived, he’d cut his wrists and neck and was lying “prone” on the roof and covered in blood.

Five firefighters managed to rescue him and remained on the roof after their supervisor had blown an emergency whistle to warn them to leave.

The fire caused an estimated £1.4million-worth of damage to the 18th-century inn, which is the oldest building in the village.

Sharp had previously pleaded guilty to arson with recklessness as to whether life was endangered.

But he later failed to attend a magistrates’ court appearance and a warrant was issued for his arrest in the Isle of Man, where he had returned to live near his daughters. Yesterday at Bradford Crown Court he was jailed for 40 months.

The court heard that Sharp took over the running of the pub in 2017 after meeting partner Lindsey Williamson, an experienced licensee.

But while the business initially prospered, Sharp had suffered depression dating back to when he was injured and a colleague was killed when a wall collapsed on them.

The court was told his mental health deteriorated when he stopped taking his medication.

After the pub was forced to close during the Covid lockdown, their relationship deteriorated and they separated.

There were several police call-outs to domestic disputes and on one occasion Ms Williamson was arrested before she agreed to move out of the pub flat they shared.

Sharp had accused her of having an affair with a local man and claimed she planned to leave him.

Although they at first planned to keep running the pub together, Sharp cut his wrists with a Stanley knife after an argument and the next day they parted “acrimoniously”.

But on the morning of July 7, he returned to Gargrave after a short break in the Lake District and asked Ms Williamson to collect her belongings from the pub alone.

In phone calls he was said to be “angry and shouting” and accused her of ruining his life.

He then published a Facebook post which read: "To all the gossipers and gob**, and there are many of you, the truth will be told. I have all the proof.

"Stay tuned – we go live on Facebook tonight. You don't want to miss this."

A further phone call was made in which he told Ms Williamson that she could never enter The Old Swan again and that if he could not have the pub “nobody would have it”.

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After Sharp was taken to hospital, he was detained under the Mental Health Act until September, when he was interviewed by cops.

His solicitor told the court that Sharp had “no intent to harm others” and he was suffering a serious mental health episode at the time.

But Judge Jonathan Rose said: "The post on Facebook suggests the plans you had made for that evening were momentous.

“It is a tragedy that you had reached that point, but it is not necessary to associate that with what you went on to do to that building.

“You took a risk with the lives of others, and those firemen went above and beyond what could be expected of them to save your life.”


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