A MAN has appeared in court charged with four counts of arson after a spate of fires in Winchester on New Year's Day.

Sean Clements, of no fixed abode, appeared at a committal hearing before Basingstoke magistrates this morning.

Clements, 47, is charged with eight offences including three of arson with intent to destroy or damage property or being reckless as to whether property was destroyed or damaged and intending by the damage to endanger the life of another or being reckless as to whether the life of another would be thereby endangered.

These counts are in relation to fires started at the Deanery of Winchester Cathedral, Phase Eight clothes shop on the corner of Parchment Street and outside the Parklife Kids building in Upper Brook Street. The other matters on which he is charged are also alleged to have happened on January 1.

He is charged with arson, relating to setting fire to rubbish bins at the Buttercross, Winchester, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and three two charges of intending to cause individuals harassment alarm or distress - all of which are racially aggravated, and one of which happened at Winchester police station.

Prosecuting, Dan O’Neill said there were strong grounds for remand due to the seriousness of the charges and Isabel Hogg, defending, made no application for bail.

Magistrate Jan Ball said his case would be heard in crown court.

Clements was remanded in custody until January 15 to re-appear at Winchester Crown Court.