A FIREBOMBER from Beith who had been charged with attempted murder after hurling Molotov cocktails at a Greenock flat amid a wave of ‘warzone’ violence in the town has been spared prison.

Andrew Sutherland - a relative of people whose homes had already been petrol bombed - targeted a ground floor property on Holmscroft Street in an apparent revenge attack.

Sutherland, 54, is the uncle of two men whose families were terrorised at the behest of multiple murder bids ringleader Robert Warnock - who had orchestrated a series of hits from prison.

However, prosecutors chose to drop the attempted murder charge against Sutherland as part of a negotiated guilty plea to a reduced indictment at the High Court in Paisley.

He had gone to Holmscroft Street with petrol bombs and a brick on November 2, 2020 in response to two similar incidents at Union Street and one at Cumberland Road in Larkfield earlier that year.

Warnock, 27, had ordered those attacks after Sutherland’s nephew - also Andrew - tried to murder his 18-year-old brother, Reece.

Sutherland jnr’s half-brother, Lenny Cole, had also been involved in the attack on the teenager in Port Glasgow in August of 2019 and Mr Warnock died two months later and his grave was desecrated.

Police Scotland confirmed yesterday that Sutherland snr’s petrol bombing at Holmscroft Street was connected to the major Operation Tell investigation into all of the attacks.

He had also been charged with buying cloths from Greenock’s Tesco store to use as wicks for his bombs and with making a number of explosive devices.

It had been alleged that Sutherland ‘did unlawfully and maliciously commit an act with intent to cause, or conspire to cause, by an explosive substance an explosion of a nature likely to endanger life or cause serious injury to property’.

However, the Crown chose to drop this charge against him as well.

Beith resident Sutherland pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of culpably and recklessly throwing a brick and petrol bombs at a window of a ground floor flat in Holmscroft Street, causing the outer pane to smash and causing a fire on the footpath outside the address, all to the danger of the public.

The property was being rented to a woman, however, she was living elsewhere at the time, the court was told.

Sutherland had been spotted parking his car nearby and carrying a bag, while various CCTV cameras caught him making his way towards the target flat.

Photographs of the scene were shown to the court of a broken glass bottle lying in situ which was later examined and found to be a petrol bomb.

The hearing was told that only the outer pane of the window had smashed as a result of the attack and the flames had burnt out by the time the fire service reached the scene.

However, it was said that those inside the building would have been put at risk had the bottle entered the flat.

An advocate depute told the hearing the incident had come about following a feud between the Warnock and Cole families.

Sutherland accepted his actions were ‘completely unacceptable’ and that members of the Warnock group had been prosecuted for separate attacks.

Warnock and a gang of five others - Craig McFarlane, Drew Darling, Kieran McAnally, Brendan O’Donnell and Cain Carr - were described as ‘gangsters’ by Lord Mulholland following a trial last September and were sentenced to a total of 64 years imprisonment.

They had tried to kill seven people, including a six-year-old child.

In one of two attacks on the flat of Cole’s parents on Union Street, drug-intoxicated firebomber George Miller, 46, torched himself to death.

Judge John Morris said given what Sutherland had ultimately pleaded guilty to he was prepared to deal with the matter by way of a community-based disposal.

The judge ordered Sutherland, who was represented by instructing solicitor Aidan Gallagher alongside Thomas Ross KC at the High Court hearing on Wednesday, to complete 200 hours of unpaid work within 12 months.

He will also be under the supervision of the criminal justice social work department until February 2025.