THE moment a man’s van went up in flames because of the mindless actions of a serial arsonist was captured on camera.

After emerging bleary-eyed from his home in Red Barn Road, Brightlingsea, Andrew Watson found his van alight on his driveway at 2am on August 16 last year.

The 61-year-old, who works in the heritage craft industry, had bought his van just six weeks before it was destroyed along with tools and a sat nav.

Footage from his address captured arsonist Todd Colbourne skulking around the vehicle in the moments before it was set alight.

Mr Watson thanked the efforts of police officers to bring Colbourne to justice.

“What was absolutely fantastic was the police response in actually swamping the area with cars and bodies, allowing them to get him that night,” he said.

A police investigation found Colbourne, 32, had been drinking at a pub in Dean Street, Brightlingsea, earlier that night, before leaving in the early hours of the morning.

A short time later, he was spotted by residents trying car door handles nearby.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette: Aftermath - Mr Watson's vanAftermath - Mr Watson's van (Image: Essex Police)

Colbourne was then captured on CCTV on Mr Watson’s driveway, walking behind the van before leaving in the direction of another address.

After finding his van ablaze, the victim moved two other vehicles from the driveway to prevent them catching alight.

Essex Police and the fire service both attended the scene before being made aware of another arson outside a nearby address involving a second van, which caused damage to two properties in the road.

Officers quickly found Colbourne, of Dean Street, Brightlingsea, on foot nearby and arrested him on suspicion of arson.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette: Jailed - Todd Colbourne, 32, of Dean Street, BrightlingseaJailed - Todd Colbourne, 32, of Dean Street, Brightlingsea (Image: Essex Police)

He was found to be carrying multiple items believed to be stolen from within various vehicles.

A further search in custody uncovered phone chargers, jewellery, a wallet, and multiple pairs of scissors.

'Could have killed somebody'

Colbourne admitted all 18 charges levelled against him and was jailed for six years at Chelmsford Crown Court on January 12.

In a victim impact statement, Mr Watson told the court: “He could have killed somebody. I just cannot get my head around why he attacked people he did not know in the way he has done, with no benefit to himself or anyone else.”

Det Con Ben Stammers, an officer in the case, said: “No-one deserves to lose their property to the actions of arsonists like Colbourne.

“I hope the victims can take some solace from the fact he will spend a considerable term behind bars for his actions.”