Man offered hundreds of pounds for someone to set fire to a car and house on his behalf

A man who offered hundreds of pounds for arson to be committed on his behalf has been jailed for 11 years, and handed a 20-year restraining order to protect the victim.

Michael Arundel, of Tycroes, was found to have used the Telegram app to send messages to an audience of over 1,000 people asking for a car and house to be set on fire in February and April of this year.

When he was arrested by Dyfed-Powys Police, he was in possession of cocaine worth up to £62,500.

The 34-year-old of Mynyddbach was brought to police attention following a car fire on his street on February 28, 2024.

Witnesses reported seeing a man throw something at the black Audi before it ‘immediately exploded’ and the suspect ran away. When the owner of the car followed him, he recognised the suspect as being linked to Arundel.

It was later discovered that Arundel had sent messages inciting arson using the Telegram app. On examining his phone, police found the following messages from February 28:

  • 7.07pm: ‘Anyone looking to make money? Car set on fire in Ammanford. Don’t waste my time I want it asap.’
  • 7.09pm: ‘1st person come set the Audi outside on fire I’ll personally come give you £200 cash.’
  • 7.10pm: ‘If you’re not available tonight don’t stress. I’ll pay you £200 tomorrow night to do the house windows. I don’t f*** about and I don’t do things by half.’

He then threatened that if someone accepted the offer but didn’t commit the crime, he would ‘focus his attention’ on their house, before increasing his payment to £300.

As a result of this incident, police began to monitor the Telegram app, with their attention drawn to similar messages posted on April 26.

  • 7.02pm: ‘Need a house set on fire. Cash ready … Tycroes area. Nice amount of cash for this job.’
  • 7.03pm: photos of money bags
  • 8.16pm: ‘Cash was paid … that last job is sorted. Watch what happens tonight (two laughing emojis)
  • 8.17pm a series of emojis depicting three houses, three fires, three cars and three fires

Due to the high risk of the threats, Dyfed-Powys Police deployed two double crewed vehicles to the area.

A further message was sent in response to the police presence:

  • 8.23pm: Feds all over the place (two laughing emojis). Those police vans won’t stay there all night … soon as they’re gone it will happen mark my words! If they do wait all night … it will happen tomorrow. You can’t delay the inevitable!! It’s happening 100%

Despite Arundel’s confidence, the attack was prevented by a prompt police response and the heightened presence of officers in the area.

Three days later, police on patrol in Llanelli spotted Arundel and knowing he was wanted for questioning, pulled up next to him in their car. Realising they were officers, Arundel made off down Marble Hall Road, refusing to stop when requested.

As he was running, he tried to take a plastic bag out of his pocket with the intention of discarding it, and subsequently fell over. The officers caught up with Arundel and managed to restrain him.

They retrieved the plastic bag which contained a white rock, later established to be a half kilo block of cocaine with a street value of up to £62,500, and also found a digital weighing scale in Arundel’s pocket.

He was arrested on suspicion of possessing a class A drug with intent to supply and conspiracy to commit arson.

It was discovered Arundel had booked into a hotel in Llanelli, where a phone was seized. Officers searched his home, seizing two phones, as well as his business address where they seized a phone, laptop, police issue fleece and hi-vis vest, weighing scales and a clear bag with traces of white powder. Herbal cannabis and an air rifle were also confiscated from a garage.

Further enquiries into the Telegram account being used by Arundel found evidence of cocaine, cannabis, ketamine and MDMA being offered for supply between August 2023 and April 2024.

He was ultimately charged with five counts of supplying class A drugs, and two counts of encouraging the commission of arson in the Ammanford area, pleading guilty to all charges thanks to the strength of police evidence against him.

On Friday, July 5 Arundel appeared at Swansea Crown Court, where he was sentenced to a total of 11 years in prison. He was also handed a 20-year restraining order to protect the arson victim.

Detective Chief Inspector Rich Lewis said: “We are really pleased with the sentence handed to Arundel today. This has been an in-depth investigation with unusual circumstances in that the defendant was encouraging others to commit crimes on his behalf.

“The strength of evidence gathered was so strong that Arundel admitted all seven crimes, when clearly he had thought he could get away with offending if someone else committed the arson attack.

“These incidents could have had serious consequences, and it is very fortunate nobody was hurt by Arundel’s reckless behaviour.”

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