A DRUNK arsonist who started a fire at the York headquarters of a property investment company has been jailed for four years.

Cleaner Gary Boulton, 29, started the blaze at the Helmsley Group’s Monks Cross offices, then walked out of the building, leaving it to burn unchecked.

It was only discovered when staff saw smoke as they arrived for work the next morning, Alan Mitcheson, prosecuting, told York Crown Court.

It was Boulton’s second arson attack, having been jailed in 2008 for two years for pouring petrol over a wheelie bin and a lorry in Wilberfoss and setting them alight.

Jailing Boulton for four years the Recorder of York, Judge Stephen Ashurst, said: “You haven’t learned from your earlier sentence.”

Of the York blaze, which happened overnight on August 19 to 20, the judge said: “Miraculously, that fire didn’t cause the sort of devastating damage that can happen when a fire is left to smoulder for many hours.”

Boulton, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to arson and stealing petty cash from a cash box.

Mr Mitcheson said Boulton got into the building using a key fob issued to him for his work.

He was caught on CCTV checking the alarm system before walking into the file storage room where he started the fire.

The fire burned through part of the room’s floor and caused damage estimated at £3,451.98.

For Boulton, Damien Morrison said: “This was an act of drunken stupidity. His alcohol intake was out of control because of the breakdown of a relationship and the removal of his accommodation.”

Boulton had handed himself in on August 22 and confessed his crimes.

The court heard the East Yorkshire arson had occurred when Boulton was drunk and a psychiatrist had decided he did not have a mental illness.