AN arsonist has had his life sentence for two fire attacks quashed by the country’s top judge.

John Hanson, 37, of Beedell Avenue, Westcliff, was jailed for life at Southend Crown Court in February last year after pleading guilty to two arson attacks.

Hanson started fires to the rear of the Love & Kisses card shop, in Hamlet Court Road, and to a bin behind Westcliff Fish Bar, in London Road, Westcliff, on September 10, 2012, causing £4,400 of damage.

However, on Monday, Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas overturned the life term and instead sentenced him to five years, but ordered that he serve another five years of extended licence conditions when he is released.

The Court of Appeal heard Hanson suffered from a personality disorder, but it was his addictions to drink and drugs that lay at the root of his offending.

His barrister, David Claxton, said the case was not serious enough to warrant the “last resort” sentence of life behind bars.

The court was told the offences involved damage to property and not danger to life and limb and so did not allow a life sentence.

Giving his judgment, Lord Thomas said: “In the light of the offences and the content of the reports, a finding that he was dangerous was inevitable.

“The issue is whether or not the offences were such to justify the imposition of imprisonment for life. We are satisfied they were not.”