Published: 11 September 2018
Shocking CCTV footage has exposed a lying landlady setting fire to her own pub – after originally claiming that her dog “saved her” from the fire.
Donna Tracey confessed to burning down her business and filing a false insurance claim after previously saying she was in bed when the fire broke out
The Liverpool Echo reports that the 46-year-old set fire to The Rake and Pikel pub in April 2017, where she had been the landlady for five years.
Days after the incident Tracey called her insurers to start a claim and they began an investigation into the fire.
She also gave an interview to The Chester Chronicle in which she said her pet dog Rhea had saved her life by barking loudly as the flames spread.
Speaking days after the fire, Tracey, who refused to be pictured, said: “My dog basically saved my life.
“When she woke me up barking, I kept telling her to shut up but she kept making noise and then I started to smell smoke.
“I opened the door and saw thick smoke everywhere.”
She added: “That’s when I ran downstairs, it was terrifying. Nothing really feels real at the moment.
“This pub is my life.
“It’s my home and my livelihood.
“I have no clue when we will be able to reopen as the inside is destroyed.”
But insurers were able to access the pub’s CCTV system which clearly showed Tracey setting fire to a napkin which she then threw into a bin behind the bar.
The fire caused extensive damage to the bar and ground floor and is estimated to have cost the insurers over £200,000.
The investigation also showed that some CCTV cameras had been removed from the premises with Tracey claiming that they had not been working.
In her interview she told police that she had been drinking heavily for around two years after the death of her partner.
She also said she couldn’t remember setting fire to the pub because she had been drinking heavily that day.
Tracey, 46, of Ruthin Road, Cadole, Flintshire, pleaded guilty to arson and fraud at a hearing at Chester Crown Court on Monday (September 10).
She was jailed for four years and eight months.
The Rake & Pikel in Huntington reopened with a new licensee in November last year.