Firestarter who torched beauty salon 'felt like IRA' and it was 'keeping me busy during lockdown'

Lewis Connor outside Hamilton Sheriff Court
Lewis Connor outside Hamilton Sheriff Court -Credit:Pressteam

A firestarter who torched a beauty salon and a house is behind bars. Lewis Connor, 27, set fire to a property near Falkirk which had been seized by prosecutors.

Connor was snared after French authorities cracked the Encrochat communication system which criminals used to hide their illicit activities. Investigations revealed his Encrochat tag, LivingSilver, had been in regular contact with a user known as BigTasty in May 2020.

In one message LivingSilver told BigTasty, 'I will burn your old gaff to the ground', and received a reply stating, 'blow house to f**k'.
LivingSilver later replied, 'burnt to f**k, place just took, will send someone to take a pic if you want but place was like Blackpool illuminations when I left'.

A further message from LivingSilver stated: "Feel like the IRA back in the day, keeping me busy during lockdown, giving me something to do."

Another message revealed BigTasty, who has not been named for legal reasons, wanted CeCe's salon in Hamilton, Lanarkshire, targeted and instructed Connor to put the owner under surveillance. The salon was gutted by a blaze just days after the Falkirk property had been targeted.

Connor, of Glasgow, went on trial at Hamilton Sheriff Court where a jury convicted him of two charges of wilful fireraising and a further charge of conspiring to set fire to various properties and vehicles in Falkirk, Airdrie, Glasgow and Blantyre. The trial heard data from his mobile phone had 'pinged' at masts near the fires and properties he had been watching.

James Donnelly, 68, told jurors he had bought the Falkirk property at auction after it was seized during a proceeds of crime action. He said he was 'in shock' when police found plastic jerry cans in the garden and told a jury he later sold the damaged house at a huge loss.

The trial heard he had noticed a 'suspicious' Range Rover vehicle in the area in the days before the fire. Jurors also heard Connor had shown a woman CCTV footage of an explosion at CeCe's and told her one of the men in the video had already been caught by police.

Construction worker Connor did not give evidence during the trial but it can now be revealed two other men have already been jailed for their roles in the CeCe's attack. David Purvis, 27, was sent to prison for 16 months last May while Alexander Bill, who set himself alight during the attack, was handed 27 months in March 2022.

CCTV caught Purvis holding open a letterbox of the salon to allow Bill to pour liquid through it from a plastic jerry can before it was set alight sending a huge fireball into the air. Sheriff Colin Dunipace deferred sentence on first offender Connor until next month for reports and remanded him in custody.

He added: "Given the serious nature of what you have been found guilty of I have come to the view that continuing your bail would serve no purpose."

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