April 3, 2023 5.00 pm This story is over 7 months old

CCTV released of arsonist starting £2m blaze at Lincoln County Hospital

Oxygen pipes throughout the hospital could have exploded

Lincolnshire Police have released shocking footage of the moment a deliberate fire was started in the A&E department of Lincoln County Hospital.

John Gillon Watson, 57, was today sentenced to six years and nine months for the crime.

The CCTV footage shows Watson, wearing a distinctive black jacket with Elvis on the back, entering a room just off the main A&E department.

The corridor quickly fills with smoke from the room and the fire alarm sounds.

Worried members of staff quickly evacuate the department, and Watson himself is escorted out of the smoke-filled corridor after he emerges from the room.

The fire caused extensive damage, with the A&E department closed down for 48 hours, and more than 3,300 patient appointments for diagnostic tests delayed.

It could have caused an explosion as medical oxygen piping running throughout the hospital could have ignited.

The blaze took place in the early hours of March 29 2022.

John Gillon Watson captured on CCTV shortly before starting a fire in Lincoln County Hospital | Photo: Lincolnshire Police

Watson, of Vicarage Court, Sleaford, had entered the hospital as a patient claiming chest pains, and was later identified from the CCTV footage.

He was arrested later that day, with a lighter found in his sock, and charged with arson with recklessness as to whether life is endangered.

He never provided a motive for igniting the fire, and refused to co-operate with either a probation or psychiatric report.

However, he admitted a separate arson charge months before where he set fire to a bin near to a burger bar in an alleyway in Sleaford Market Place on October 16 2021.

Appearing at Lincoln Crown Court, Judge James House KC sentenced Watson to six years and nine months in prison.

The judge also stated that Watson was a dangerous offender and gave him a five-year extended licence period on his release from jail.

John Gillon Watson seen on CCTV after starting a fire in Lincoln County Hospital | Photo: Lincolnshire Police

Detective Sergeant Dave Patten from Lincoln CID, who led the investigation, said, “This was a senseless and reckless act of arson that could have caused significant harm to both staff and patients.

“The impact of Watson’s actions on the community and the hospital teams has been profound, with patients having to be diverted to other treatment centers, and clean up and repair work impacting the use of a busy emergency department.”

The hospital blaze caused chaos and disruption, with patients and staff evacuated from the A&E department. Six crews from Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue had to tackle the fire, which took an hour to extinguish.

Watson refused to leave his cell for his sentencing on Monday.

He remained laid on his bed watching TV and vaping, according to a prison officer.

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