A FORMER pub landlord rescued in the nick of time by brave firefighters after setting the building alight has been jailed for three years and four months.

Timothy Sharp was prone on the roof of the Old Swan Inn on Gargrave High Street bleeding heavily after starting the blaze on July 7, 2020.

Sharp, 55, who admitted arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered, destroyed the Grade two listed former coaching inn causing £1.4m damage.

Prosecutor Laura Addy told Bradford Crown Court today that he and his then partner Lindsay Williamson had been running the three storey pub since 2017.

They lived in a flat in the building and two staff members also had rooms there.

But although the business was successful, the relationship deteriorated and Sharp became depressed, erratic and argumentative.

He had suffered with poor mental health for many years and he began spending more time in his room.

When the Covid pandemic closed the pub it ran a takeaway business instead but the couple’s relationship worsened.

Sharp, now living in Waverley Terrace, Ramsey, Isle of Man, thought Miss Williamson was having an affair. She moved out but continued to run the pub.

The barman left and Sharp’s mental health deteriorated further. 

In the days before the fire, he went to The Lake District and spoke to a former partner there saying he was depressed. 

He went back to the pub and asked Miss Williamson to collect her belongings, Miss Addy said. He then posted a warning on Facebook before setting 12 fires in the pub, climbing on to the roof and refusing to come down.

When the fire service arrived he was prone on the roof and covered in blood from self-inflicted knife wounds. His blood loss was so great that the roof was slippery.

It took five firefighters to get him down just as the flames were breaking through the roof. A whistle was blown by a senior officer telling them to abandon the rescue because it was too dangerous but they carried on.

Sharp was treated at Leeds General Infirmary and then sectioned under The Mental Health Act to Lynfield Mount Hospital in Bradford.

He stayed there until September 1, 2020, when he returned to the Isle of Man where his family lived.

He told the police he ensured the building was empty before he started the fire and then locked it.

Miss Addy said there was great risk to the firefighters who went on to the roof to rescue him.

Christopher Styles said in mitigation that Sharp took positive steps to ensure there was no one else in the pub and barred the doors to stop members of the public coming in.

He started the fire with the sole aim of ending his own life during a serious episode of mental illness.

He now struggled to breathe after sustaining permanent and irreversible lung damage in the blaze. Every second since that day, he had felt the pain of what he had done.

His lungs were weakened and damaged and he was repeatedly wracked with infections.

Sharp had pleaded guilty at the very first opportunity and had excellent insight into the harm and risk he had caused to others. He accepted in full the consequences of what he did and was genuinely ashamed and remorseful.

Judge Jonathan Rose said Sharp had a long history of significant mental illness.

“Your depression was pervading, it was extensive and perpetuated over a lengthy period of time,” he said.

After he started the fire, two members of the public risked their lives to try to save him but they were beaten back by the flames.

Then five firefighters went ‘way beyond what could be reasonably expected of them’ to rescue him. When the senior officer blew the whistle telling them to come down they ignored it because they were determined to save his life.

Judge Rose said Sharp did £1.4 million damage to a beautiful building and destroyed an employee’s home and worldly possessions.

He asked Miss Addy to find out the names of the two members of the public and the five firefighters who so bravely risked their lives so they could be commended.