POLICE and prosecutors welcomed the life sentence handed to Paul Nash.
Temporary Chief Superintendent Peter McPhillips, of Cleveland Police, said Andrew Simon was a vulnerable man who drug users and alcoholics took advantage of by using his home as an open house.
Speaking outside court, Chief Supt McPhillips said: “Paul Nash was one of those individuals who used the address, he was not a friend of Andrew Simon, but we now know after the sentencing, that shortly after midnight on the June 11 last year, he walked into the address and set a fire on the settee in the front living room while Andrew was asleep upstairs.
“Nash left the address, looked back through the window and then walked away without raising the alarm, this callous action resulted in the death of Andrew Simon.
“Throughout his arrest, the interview and the court process, Nash has failed to show any remorse for his actions or sympathy for his victim.
“I hope that the family of Andrew Simon can now get some satisfaction and have some closure knowing that Nash has admitted the offence and will serve a significant custodial sentence.”
Lynsey Colling, acting district crown prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service North East, added: “On the evening of this tragic fire Paul Nash had been a guest of Andrew Simon, drinking with others at Andrew’s home in Dent Street, Hartlepool.
“For whatever reason, Nash chose to repay this kindness by returning to Andrew’s home later that evening, deliberately setting the fire that would claim his life.
“While we may never fully understand the motives behind Nash’s actions, their cost to the family of Andrew Simon is painfully clear.
“We extend our deepest sympathies to them all at what must be a very difficult time for them.”