A NEWCASTLE Emlyn man who started a £130,000 fire to cover up a burglary has been jailed today (April 15) for four-and-a-half years.

Luke Cuber-Hives, aged 29, cut himself as he broke into the Riverside Health Shop in Adpar and thought police would identify his DNA.

He set a fire that caused £100,000 worth of damage to the shop and ruined £30,000 worth of stock.

Swansea crown court heard that the owner, Hazel Butterworth, had to lay off four members of staff and missed the Christmas trading season.

Cuber-Hives, of Ty Croeso, Adpar, admitted arson, theft, burglary and fraud.

Jim Davis, prosecuting, said Cuber-Hives raised suspicion in the Riverside Cafe opposite the shop, when a member of staff thought he had concealed something in his clothing. Later, it was discovered that Cuber-Hives had returned to the premises to steal a ladder and a marble top worth £300.

Cuber-Hives then went door to door collecting, he claimed, for flood victims who had not been compensated.

On November 17 he broke into the health shop and stole five charity boxes, and used petrol to start the fire.

Police arrested Cuber-Hives later the same day and found the boxes at his flat, along with the marble top and the ladder.

Officers also found a diary that contained an entry reading 'target, health food shop.'

Mr Davis told the court that in 2012 Cuber-Hives had been convicted of starting 12 separate fires in the Newcastle Emlyn area, mainly in waste paper bins.

His barrister, Ian Ibrahim, said his heroin addiction was behind his offending.

"It was a living hell. He spent everything he had on drugs," added Mr Ibrahim.

"He started the fire to cover his tracks. It was stupid. He lived just around the corner and was bound to be caught."

Judge Peter Heywood said the arson had had huge effects on the shop, the staff and the local community

And he found it particularly concerning that Cuber-Hives already had convictions for arson.

Detective Inspector Richard Yelland, senior investigating officer into the inquiry for Dyfed Powys Police, said: “This sentence sends a strong message that arson is a serious and dangerous act.

“Ceredigion has seen first-hand the devastating impact these mindless acts can have on victims, and the fear it spreads in the community. We saw in Aberystwyth that fire can quickly take hold and lives can be lost.

“In this case it appears, the fact that nobody was hurt was due to luck, rather than the judgement of Mr Cuber-Hives.

“I hope that anyone considering such behaviour will think twice before committing such offences with a long prison sentence waiting for those who get caught.”