29-year-old arsonist was sentenced to six years in prison for setting fire to a nightclub, and threatening to torch other venues as protest against Covid vaccine passports.

  • Owen Marshall, 29 years old, set fire at SWX nightclub in Bristol early in the morning of July 13
  • Later, he threw another brick through the Barley Mow window with a note
  • Club Lakota received a letter from an arsonist warning them about Covid-19 passports  
  • Today was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court to six years imprisonment for offences. 

A man who burned down a popular nightclub in protest over Covid-19 passports for entry has been jailed for six years.

Owen Marshall, 29 years old, set fire and soaked in petrol a towel that he had made. He then posted the towel through SWX nightclub’s Bristol letterbox on the morning of July 13, after acquiring an “obsession” with Covid regulations.

More than 130 fire fighters rushed to the rescue to extinguish the flames. This happened just days before the club was due to reopen, after being closed for months because of pandemic.   

Marshall, of Bristol, later threw a brick through the window of the Barley Mow pub with a note attached claiming vaccine passports were a ‘breach of human rights’ before sending a letter to the Bristol nightclub Lakota.  

Officers tracked him back to the shop, where he purchased a box with matches. He then launched an appeal for help. 

Owen Marshall, 29, from Bristol, set fire to a petrol soaked towel and posted it through the letterbox of club SWX in Bristol on July 13

Owen Marshall (29), from Bristol set fire to a petrol-soaked towel and sent it through the club SWX letterbox in Bristol on 13 July. 

The arsonist was identified after police tracked his movements back to a shop where he had bought a box of matches

Police tracked the movements of an arsonist back to a store where he bought a box matchsticks.

More than 130 fire service crew rush to the scene to tackle the blaze at club SWX on July 31

Over 130 firefighters raced to the rescue to extinguish the fire at SWX club on July 31st

Marshall admitted to arson and recklessness as to the possibility of life being endangered. He also made threats to cause damage during a September hearing at Bristol Crown Court.

The three offenses he committed at the same time were then sentencing him to six years in prison. 

The court heard that after carrying out the arson attack on SWX Marshall delivered a letter to the home of Bristol Mayor, Marvin Rees, in which he claimed responsibility for the arson attack. 

Marshall also wrote a note to Bristol’s Lakota nightclub on August 2. He warned that the venue could sustain’substantial damage’ like SWX if they introduced Covid passports. 

Lakota wrote that vaccination passports were dividing us, and would take away the liberty of other citizens. Your club may be affected by SWX on Nelson Street if you do not stop that policy.

“I highly recommend that you listen to the following message.” 

PC David Stevenson, who was sentencing Owen Marshall, stated: “Owen Marshall’s actions resulted from the totally misguided belief that venues were about to adopt the Covid vaccine passports.”

“His obsessiveness with Covid limitations ultimately drove him to carry out an extremely dangerous attack on SWX. It was only by sheer luck that no one was actually physically hurt.

The arsonist sent a letter to the Bristol nightclub Lakota in which he warned the venue would 'sustain substantial damage like SWX' if it introduced Covid passports

In a letter, the arsonist warned Lakota that the Bristol club would sustain’substantial damage’ like SWX if they introduced Covid passports.

Police launched a public appeal to find Marshall after tracking his movements on CCTV

After tracking Marshall’s movements via CCTV, police launched an appeal for Marshall to be found.

The ‘Staff was present in the area just hours prior and may still be there when the accelerant was used to light the fire.

“More Than 130 firefighters were at risk in tackling the fire, which required several hours to put out.”

He said: “The attack had a devastating effect on the club, and the three businesses that are located below it with hundreds and thousands of pounds of damage and loss of revenue.

These were all businesses that had been affected by the pandemic. They were excited to return to their communities, but their livelihoods would be again in peril.

“Major Marshall did not explain his actions. I’m glad that he eventually accepted responsibility, as this negated any need for trial.”