A Torquay man has been jailed for life, to serve a minimum of 24 years following a fatal fire in May 2021.
Raymond Lynagh, 47, was sentenced at Exeter Crown Court today, Tuesday 16 January.
The body of 37-year-old Dean Corbett was found at the property on Saturday 22 May 2021, in what the fire service described as “one the worst blazes they had ever encountered”.
Mr Corbett, who was asleep inside the ground floor flat on Ellacombe Road, died from inhalation of fumes and gas after Lynagh started the fire then tampered with a gas pipe behind the oven to fuel the flames.
Exeter Crown Court heard that Lynagh and Mr Corbett knew each other and were both known to use drugs and alcohol. They were told how Lynagh wanted to get back at Mr Corbett, who was homeless and had taken over the flat.
Lynagh blamed Mr Corbett for an eviction notice on the flat and claimed Mr Corbett had damaged property, assaulted him and stolen his belongings.
The court heard that Lynagh sat in the garden watching the building burn and at no time alerted anyone to the fire. The fire service was alerted by neighbours. Lynagh immediately claimed to officers that Mr Corbett had started the fire and had fled by the back door, however, the victim was actually lying deceased on the bed in the rear bedroom of the flat.
Lynagh changed his story to police several times about his movements on the night of the murder but denied starting the fire or killing Mr Corbett.
Lynagh told a support worker that he was responsible for the death and Mr Corbett ‘had it coming to him.’ He also confessed to a friend.
Investigating Officer Superintendent Rachael Bentley, said: “I welcome today’s sentence and the jury finding Lynagh guilty of murder after careful deliberation.
“This has been a lengthy and complex investigation and I would like to praise the dedicated work carried out by the investigation team, supported by South West Forensics and external specialists, to bring Lynagh to justice.
“Throughout this investigation Lynagh maintained that he was not responsible for the death of his victim. The simple fact is that he deliberately set a catastrophic and fatal fire knowing full well that Mr Corbett was asleep inside the property. It was a brutal and premeditated act borne out of hatred.
“This is a very sad and tragic case and I only hope that today’s sentence brings some sense of comfort to the family who have acted with dignity and strength throughout this process.”
Got a news story, blog or press release that you’d like to share or want to advertise with us? Get in touch via email email@example.com