A Barrhead man who set fire to two properties while conspiring to burn down others has been jailed for three years after his encrypted phone messages revealed his crimes. 

Lewis Connor, 27, used five jerry cans filled with petrol to substantially damage a house in Dennyloanhead, near Falkirk, which was undergoing restoration. 

Two days later, a business property in Hamilton was set alight by two other men acting alongside Connor. 

Connor was sentenced at Hamilton Sheriff Court after being found guilty of two charges of wilful fire-raising. 

He was also convicted of a further charge of conspiring to set fire to various properties and vehicles in Falkirk, Airdrie, Blantyre and Glasgow. 

The jury earlier heard how Connor had monitored the house in Dennyloanhead while its owner was carrying out refurbishments, sleeping in a nearby garage.    

On May 9, 2020, Connor entered the property and set various rooms on the ground floor alight using five jerry cans filled with petrol.   

An encrypted mobile message on the Encrochat platform used by criminals, which the jury accepted was sent by Connor, said: “It was like Blackpool illuminations when I left.” 

He was sentenced to three years of imprisonment.

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Donnie Lawrie, from the NCA, said: “Lewis Connor used Encrochat to boast about his crimes, thinking he was not in the sights of law enforcement.

"Unfortunately for him, we were able to access his messages and used them to link him to these incidents that destroyed the property of local residents.

"The NCA will continue to work with our partners in the OCP to bring Connor and criminals like him to justice.”

Detective Inspector Alan Cuthbert, from Police Scotland, said: “Connor deliberately targeted these premises with total disregard to whether anyone was inside and fortunately no-one was injured, however, the outcome could have been very different. 

"Although there were no injuries, a fire within residential premises can have long-lasting effects for the residents and in commercial premises it affects the owner’s livelihood.”

Sineidin Corrins, Depute Procurator Fiscal for Serious Casework at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), said: “These were highly dangerous crimes which caused widespread damage to private properties. 

“Lewis Connor boasted of his exploits and enlisted others to carry out similar crimes on his behalf. 

“But he will now pay for those crimes by serving a lengthy term of imprisonment.”