A SHOPKEEPER who arranged for her premises to be set ablaze by criminals as part of an attempted insurance scam has had her jail term cut on appeal.
Mother-of-three Sukhjit Kaur, aged 28, of Adlington Road, Parson Cross, dialled 999 claiming four knifemen had held her and husband Dharminder Singh, 33, hostage and robbed their shop, D&S Supersave, Rotherham Road, Smithies, Barnsley, before setting it alight.
Singh - who has also won a cut in his sentence - backed up his wife’s story when the emergency services arrived.
But Kaur called the police later that night, on March 9, 2010, and confessed she had arranged for the fire to be started herself as an insurance fiddle, after getting into debt to a loan shark.
At Sheffield Crown Court in February, Kaur was jailed for five years after admitting arson being reckless as to whether life is endangered. Singh was jailed for three years after admitting perverting the course of justice.
Lord Justice Davis, Mr Justice Treacy and Mrs Justice Slade, sitting at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, cut Kaur’s term to four years and Singh’s to one.
The court heard the armed raid story was thought up by Kaur after she became indebted to a loan shark.
An insurance policy was taken out just hours before the corner shop was gutted by flames. The fire spread to the home of neighbour Jean Kaye, who fled when she was woken by an explosion.
Kaur’s lawyers pleaded with the judges for mercy, citing her youth, previous good character and ‘remorse’.
Condemning her offence, Mrs Justice Slade said: “Her neighbour could have been burned alive, but, having taken into account her remorse and shame, her previous good character and her early guilty, in our judgement a starting point of seven-and-a-half years was too high.
“We consider a starting point of six years was appropriate. Giving a discount for a very early guilty plea, we quash the sentence of five years and substitute a sentence of four years.”