Two men who started a blaze that destroyed a house as part of an insurance scam have been warned they are facing jail.
Samuel Todd and Ryan Ibbitson have both been found guilty after a nine-day trial of conspiracy to commit arson and being reckless as to whether life was endangered.
The charges related to an explosion at Todd’s terraced house on Cumberland Avenue in Clayton-le-Moors on April 15, 2014, after it was flooded with gas from the cooking hob and petrol poured inside through a window.
Ibbitson, 23, of Selby Close, Baxenden, was also found guilty at Burnley Crown Court of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.
The jury delivered majority verdicts of 10-2 on all the charges after five hours of deliberations.
Todd, 27, of Spencer Street, Accrington, earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson and conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation but denied being reckless as to whether life was endangered.
Judith McCullough, prosecuting, told the jury that both defendants had been ‘heavily involved’ in the planning of the ‘ferocious’ 2am fire as part of an insurance scam to get the most ‘substantial payout’ for the contents of the house.
The jury heard the fire crew manager had ‘never seen a house fire like that they faced that night’, with all the windows ‘blown out’ and the house ‘engulfed in flames’.
The trial heard that on April 12, Todd reported that they had been burgled and investigating officers found the gate had been forced, a window prized open with a crowbar, knives stuck into leather sofas and the words ‘thieving scum, I’m going to burn you out’ scratched on the television.
However, a neighbour had seen Todd climbing into his house through a back window a few days before the fire and prosecutors said the burglary ‘set the stage’ for the next part of the plan.
Judge Jonathan Gibson bailed both defendants to be sentenced at Preston Crown Court on August 15.
He warned them: “I will adjourn both your cases for pre-sentence reports.
“They are only likely to inform how long the sentence is and not what type of sentence is involved.”
Speaking after the sentence hearing, Detective Inspector Tim McDermott, of Lancashire Police, said: “I welcome the conviction of these two men and would like to thank the jury for the time and concentration they have put into a very complex case.
“In over 20 years in the police service I cannot recall two suspects who have twisted and altered their accounts as often as Todd and Ibbitson did in an attempt to avoid the consequences of their actions.
"From the start they believed they could lie their way out of trouble, and it is thanks to a meticulous investigation that justice has now been served.
“I would also like to thank the witnesses who gave evidence, and for their patience during what has been a very long process.
“The residents of Cumberland Avenue had their homes and lives put at risk and the disruption since has been long and very upsetting.
"I hope this verdict now offers them some comfort, and they can move forward knowing Ibbitson and Todd will face the consequences of their actions.”