POLICE have released CCTV footage of the moment a Chester landlady set fire to her pub.

Donna Tracey, 46, was yesterday jailed for four years and eight months after pleading guilty to arson and fraud after she attempted to make an insurance claim.

CCTV footage inside the Rake & Pikel pub. Video courtesy of Cheshire Police

Chester Crown Court heard that she had tried to disable the CCTV camera system in the Rake & Pikel in Huntington and told fire investigators that it had not been working.

The Leader:

However, the footage was later recovered and clearly showed her using a cigarette lighter to set fire to a napkin before throwing it in a bin under the bar at around 5.25am on April 29 last year.

The film – played to the court – also shows her dropping a lit cigarette into the container before walking away from the bar as the fire takes hold.

Tracey, now of Ruthin Road, Cadole, Flintshire, had been running and living at the pub for around five years, leasing it from the Trust Inns group.

The Leader:

Three fire engines were sent to the premises on Chester Road, Huntington, after the fire was reported. Four firefighters entered the building to tackle the flames, putting their lives at risk.

The court heard that Tracey she was at a “profoundly low point in her life” following the death of her boyfriend and business partner in 2014.

She had turned to drink to cope with the stress of running the pub alone and could not remember starting the fire.

The Leader:

Judge Patrick Thompson said the law was very clear that cases of arson must carry significant prison sentences.

He told Tracey: “This is a dreadfully sad case and it is with a heavy heart that I have to pass the sentence that I must pass. What you did was incredibly serious.”