‘It became a nightmare’: Couple speak of pub blaze heartbreak as arsonist is jailed

OWNERS of The Granary pub Nigel and Sally-Ann Nieddu have told The News outside court how they were still left with unanswered questions over Richard Bowman’s reckless arson attack.

Despite having vindication they had no part in the fire in 2008, the couple revealed they were still unsure who put the arsonist up to it and what the motives were.

Richard Bowman (left) has been jailed for setting fire to The Granary pub

Richard Bowman (left) has been jailed for setting fire to The Granary pub

Richard Bowman has been jailed for starting the fire, having fled to Spain for 10 years.

Nigel, 50, said: ‘He was paid by someone to do the job. I’d like to know who was behind it, though we’ll probably never know. The person that ruined our lives is still out there.

‘Our names are cleared now though after the court convicted (Bowman) and said he was put up to it.

‘The sentence doesn’t seem fair for all we’ve been through but they are the guidelines the judge has to follow I suppose.’

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service received a call to the Granary Bar and Restaurant, Whitely Lane, Titchfield, at 06:14 on Saturday, January 12, 2008.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service received a call to the Granary Bar and Restaurant, Whitely Lane, Titchfield, at 06:14 on Saturday, January 12, 2008.

Speaking of the family turmoil, Nigel continued: ‘The insurance company took a stance against us from the start and we had people in the community turn against us. We had to cover hundreds of thousands of pounds damage and have been financially crippled by this.’

Nigel admitted the ‘high profile’ nature of the Gordon Ramsay show could have sparked the attack before he added: ‘The person behind this deserves a greater punishment than Bowman. He was just following orders for a job.’

He added: ‘We had a message from the Gordon Ramsay show saying they were sorry to hear about the fire.’

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Sally-Ann, 52, said: ‘We had a great business that we loved and was the hub of our lives  – it was real pleasure to run. We had 25 great staff who lost their jobs as a result. It all changed and became a nightmare.

‘Our lives changed and suddenly we didn’t have the same standard of life we had before. Everything became a daily struggle as we tried to fend off the bank, insurance company, local authorities and even travellers who took over the premises.

‘Our 26-year marriage broke down as a result of the attack.

‘Last year I suffered an aneurysm and was at serious risk of losing my life.

‘I probably won’t be the same person I was before. The children suffered appallingly as result of all this.’