A man who started a fire in sheltered accommodation forcing elderly residents to jump to safety has been jailed for nine years.

Timothy Bixley, of no fixed address, started two fires in the bin shed of Guinness Court, Leafy Way, Addiscombe, last August.

The court heard the 40-year-old had started a string of fires on the night of August 15 and 16, 2011.

Seven residents of lost their flats in the blaze and were hospitalised suffering from smoke inhalation and related injuries, after being evacuated from the building at about 1am.

Croydon Crown Court heard Bixley began his spree by attempting to set fire to the postbox of the NatWest bank in Lower Addiscombe Road.

He was seen on CCTV at the front door of the bank and then set alight a piece of cardboard, before pushing it through the letterbox and walking off.

The fire did not take hold and a burnt piece of cardboard was discovered by the manager the next day.

He then made his way to Clyde Road, where he set alight a wheelie bin after being refused access to the address of an acquaintance.

The fire was spotted by neighbours and put out.

Bixley progressed further down Clyde Road, where he set alight a car cover before making his way to Leafy Way.

There he set fire to rubbish bins, but the wooden structure around the bins caught alight and spread to the warden-assisted block of flats.

About £500,000 worth of damage was caused to the block and the Guinness Trust lost around £40,000 worth of rent because the seven flats were inhabitable.

The court heard on the night of the fires Bixley, who has 11 previous convictions had been drinking and had taken amphetamine.

Sentencing Bixley, Her Honour Judge Heather Baucher said: "The aerial photos speak more than 1,000 words.

"You toddled off down the road after all this had happened as if it was nothing to do with you.

"You didn't bother to alert the emergency services, this is another substantial aggravating factor.

"I am very concerned as to why you started these fires."

Bixley faced three counts of arson and one count of reckless arson with intent to endanger life.

He was sentenced to nine years for starting the fire at Guinness Court , and 18 months for each of the other counts to run concurrently.

Speaking after the hearing, Michael Castle, 21, whose nan Patricia escaped the fire said: "People lost everything in that fire and he's been sitting cushty on remand.

"I agree with what the judge said, she took it very seriously."