Man Jailed for Arson Attacks on Sikh Temple and Church in Edinburgh

Paul Johnson told police officers that he has “issues” with God and religion.


A man who started fires at a gurudwara and a Methodist church in Edinburgh within minutes of each other has been jailed for four years.

On Aug. 28, the entrances of Guru Nanak Gurdwara Sahib in Leith city, Edinburgh  and Leith Methodist Church were set on fire. He was arrested the next day by Edinburgh Police on charges of arson.

According to a report in the Independent, Paul Johnson, 49, reportedly told the police that he has “issues” with God and religion. He told the officers that he wanted to watch these buildings burn down.

He pleaded guilty of two charges of willful fire-raising aggravated by religious prejudice in Edinburgh High Court in October, reported the Guardian.

Johnson was sentenced to a jail term of four years by the High Court last week. While awarding him a jail term, Judge Lord Boyd described his actions as “reckless and wicked.”

The judge also said that it appears that Johnson had “a ‘grudge’ against the religion or religious authorities in general, rather than a prejudice against one particular group,” the report added.

According to a Guardian report, advocate depute Alan Cameron told the court, “The accused was asked as to his motivation for the fires and stated that he was looking to make a political statement, but would not provide further details.”

“When asked whether this was religiously motivated he stated that he has no issue with any particular religion but his issues are with religion and God in general,” Cameron said.

In the early hours of Aug.28, a man was heading to gurdwara to offer his prayers and saw one side of the door on fire. He immediately raised an alarm for the man sleeping inside in family quarters. Soon after the fire service was informed who brought the fire under control.

A few hours later, a caretaker at Leith Methodist Church also smelled petrol and burning but ignored as there was no sign of damage caused by fire. But when he heard about the incident at Sikh Temple, he informed the police, which found through CCTV footage that attacker had also come to set the church on fire.

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