Three men put lives at risk and devastated nearby businesses when the fire they started to burn down their restaurant and claim the insurance spread out of control, a court heard.
Sohir Uddin, 30, who ran the Acklam Tandoori in Middlesborough admitted arson charges when he appeared before Teeside Crown Court.
Younger brother Mohammed Salik Uddin, 24, and waiter and delivery driver Kasim Rehman, 20 admitted similar charges. The men were jailed for four years, three years and 18 months respectively.
Police and fire officers heard that the fire severely damaged nearby shops including a butchers, a bakers, and a newsagents. Flats above the restaurant, which were unoccupied at the time, were also damaged.
Three of the businesses have yet to reopen and the staff at a building society branch have been made redundant. The damage from the blaze was estimated to be in excess of £1 million.
Evidence was given that the business was losing money and that the rent was overdue. Additionally health inspectors had said they were concerned by hygiene standards at the premises.
The insurance cover for the restaurant, which the men aimed to collect when the restaurant had burned down, was £500,000. Jailing the men said Judge Tony Briggs said the fire had caused "devastating damage".
After the case Acting Detective Inspector Simon Hurwood said: "The disruption to businesses, their employees and the local community has been devastating.
"Mr Sohir Uddin has stated that the motivation behind the offence was financial difficulty and I would urge anyone who finds themselves in a similar position to seek professional, financial help and not take measures such as these to try to improve that situation."
By Andrew Smith
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