The fanatic who set fire to the nightclub to protest the Covid passport was jailed

Owen Marshall caused hundreds of thousands of pounds in damage to SWX in Bristol (Image: SWNS)

A person who set fire to a Bristol nightclub and concert venue to protest the place’s possibility of introducing a Covid passport has been jailed for six years.

Owen Marshall, 29, caused hundreds of thousands of pounds in damage to SWX on Nelson Street in the city center when he lit a petrol towel he tied to a mailbox.

The fire on July 13 of this year, which also caused extensive damage to three neighboring businesses, occurred just a week before the venue reopened after the lockdown.

It comes two months after Marshall sent a letter to the club threatening to burn it, claiming it was a warning to other venues about the so-called Covid passports.

Marshall, from Eastville, Bristol, was caught on CCTV dropping another letter to the home of the city’s mayor, Marvin Rees, confessing to the attack.

Just over two weeks later, on July 28, he threw a brick through the window of the Barley Mow pub in Bedminster.

It was wrapped in a handwritten note claiming the vaccine passport was a human rights violation.

A few days later, on August 2, Lakota, another downtown nightclub, received a letter saying it would ‘suffer as much damage as SWX’ if it introduced the Covid passport.

Marshall was jailed for six years (Image: Avon & Somerset Police/SWNS)
CCTV footage of the fire (Image: Avon & Somerset Police/SWNS)
One of the notes Marshall wrote warns locations not to enforce Covid passes (Image: PA)

Marshall was tracked down after officers scoured hundreds of hours of CCTV footage from the streets around SWX, tracking him back to the store where he bought the matches.

He was identified from the footage following a public appeal.

Marshall initially denied responsibility, but later admitted the arson was reckless as to whether there was danger to life, criminal damage and the threat of criminal damage at Bristol Crown Court .

PC coroner David Stevenson said: ‘Owen Marshall’s actions were motivated by the completely false belief that the locations he was targeting were to introduce Covid vaccine passports.

‘His obsession with Covid restrictions eventually led to him carrying out an extremely reckless attack on SWX and only by sheer luck no one was physically harmed.

Marshall was eventually tracked down from CCTV footage (Image: Avon & Somerset Police/SWNS)

‘Staff had been at the site just hours earlier and they could have easily entered while he used the accelerator to start the fire.

‘More than 130 firefighters were also at risk of having to deal with the blaze, which took several hours to extinguish.’

He added: ‘The attack had a devastating impact on the club and the three businesses based below it, with hundreds of thousands of pounds in damage and loss of revenue caused.

‘These are businesses that have suffered as a result of the pandemic and look forward to serving their communities once again, just because their livelihoods are once again in jeopardy.

“Although Marshall never explained his actions, I’m glad he ultimately accepted responsibility as it negated the need for a trial.”

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Huynh Nguyen

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