An arsonist has been jailed after setting fire to The Basement nightclub, which caused damage costing more than £300,000.
Emergency services were called to The Basement in Alexandra Street, Southend, at about 6.25am on Monday October 26 last year.
Suspect Duncan Hughes had entered through the cellar trapdoor in Market Square and once inside, had poured bleach over the DJ equipment and set bins alight.
Bottles of spirits were smashed and also set alight and tissue paper placed in the tills behind the main bar and rear bar.
A large fire was lit in the cellar, causing significant damage to pumps, ice machines and stock.
The nightclub suffered from smoke damage on all three floors. The damage cost £347,165.
Hughes, 24, of Southchurch Road, Southend, was identified from CCTV images and clothing worn at the time was recovered from his home address.
He had been a manager at The Basement three months previously, when his employment was terminated.
He pleaded guilty to a charge of arson at Basildon Crown Court on January 4 and was sentenced today, Monday May 9 to four years in jail.
Investigating officer Detective Constable Jon Holden said: “Hughes has never given an explanation for committing this crime.
“His actions have affected a number of staff members significantly and Southend s social scene.
“The Basement is surrounded by a number of other commercial premises and the outcome could have been much worse had the fire not been seen by members of the public.
“Hughes wore clothing belonging to a friend and was quickly identified by members of staff on CCTV and was later seen calmly walking around Southend.
“I would like to thank Essex County Fire and Rescue Service for their assistance in the investigation, as well as members of public who provided us with CCTV footage.