A former bartender at Club X, the Cardiff night club set on fire in July, has admitted to torching the bar, although he says his actions were not motivated by malice.

John Courtney plead guilty to charges he started a fire in Cardiff’s biggest gay club in July but told the Cardiff Crown Court he was not aware of starting the blaze because he was “so drunk” at the time.

Courtney said that he had no ill feelings toward the bar’s owners and that he had left his barman job four years earlier of his own free will.

The former employee testified that when the mini-bus that takes him to his new job in a failed to show up the morning of the fire, he decided to head into town and get drunk instead.

After breaking a window in Club X to get in, he said he doesn’t remember anything until he was woken up by fire-fighters. Police say they believe he started two fires in the club, which caused a total of £300,000 worth of damage.

The club has yet to re-open, although organizers have promised it will be ready for the city’s Mardi Gras festival next weekend.

Courtney admitted to reckless arson and told the court how he was suffering from depression before and after the incident. He was given a rehabilitation order by the judge, and ordered to pay £250 in costs.

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