A LANDLORD and his wife have been jailed for torching their own Hampshire pub.

Dean Thomas was jailed for six years for setting fire to the Tollhouse Inn in Lymington in the early hours after spreading petrol around the bar area and igniting it.

His wife Melynda, 36, was jailed for three years - reduced because of her lesser role in the incident - which had occurred while her teenage daughter, her boyfriend and a pub worker were asleep upstairs.

All the occupants had to escape from a first-floor hatch as the fire raged in the bar, causing £100,000-worth of damage at the Southampton Road pub.

The pair were last month found guilty by a Southampton Crown Court jury of arson being reckless as to endanger life.

Dean Thomas, 42, was also given a 12-month sentence for perverting the course of justice to run concurrent to his six-year sentence after he tried to pin the blame on his brother-in-law.

Jurors heard police found a holdall hidden behind a garage at the pub which contained petrol, gloves and clothes which had fragments of glass from windows smashed during the fire.

A secret camera set up by officers then showed the couple searching the area in which the bag was hidden before arguing, shortly after they had returned for the first time since the blaze.

Handing down the sentences to the pair Judge Peter Henry said: “I have no doubt that as part of that plan it was at the forefront of your mind to get everybody out safely but you had no idea how the fire would spread, how the thick the smoke would be.

“You put people's lives in danger.”