Two naked British men started fires in a house as part of a pagan ritual, a court has been told.

Aftab Mughal, 21, and Terence Williams, 51, had to be forcibly removed from the building by firefighters while naked, refusing to cover themselves up when they were given blankets outside.

They said they started the fires at Williams’ home in Blair Court, The Meadows, Nottingham, as part of a pagan ritual to get rid of “negative vibes”.

But they ended up being arrested and charged with arson.

Nottingham Crown Court was told how a neighbour became concerned after seeing thick smoke coming from the house.

He climbed on a pitched roof at the front of the house and, when he looked inside, could see Williams standing next to a fire completely naked and throwing things on to it, the court was told.

He banged on the window to get Williams’ attention and shouted at him to get out.

Siward James-Moore, prosecuting, said: “The flames were licking around Mr Williams’ ankles at that stage. Mr Williams was staring right through him.”

The man then forced his way through the door to rescue Williams, not realising Mughal was also inside and involved in the ritual.

The court heard the pair had been burning white sage leaves and a candle as they meditated.

But when Mughal said there was a “negative vibe in the air”, they decided to burn it away with lit newspaper – as part of a ceremony related to Wicca, a modern religion based on ancient pagan traditions.

“Terence Williams suggested both their clothes should be burnt to enhance the ritual they were undertaking,” said Mr James-Moore. “Fire crews were called to the property at around 11.50am on October 21.

Firefighters entered the address and found two males within, these two defendants, both of them were completely naked.

“They initially refused to leave, were not concerned for their own safety and were shocked the fire service was called. They were both asked to leave but both ran upstairs to get away from them.”

The men were found upstairs and were “removed” naked by firefighters and taken outside “in that condition”, the court heard.

A police officer who arrived saw Williams and Mughal standing outside, still naked, making no attempt to cover themselves. He gave them blankets but they threw them on the ground.

Mr James-Moore said: “Aftab Mughal, as far as he was concerned, he didn’t think the ritual was one that made him fear for his safety and he was bemused when the fire brigade arrived.”

Williams described the ceremony as a Wiccan ceremony, involving burning items to cleanse their souls.

“He said he walked around the property with Aftab Mughal with small pieces of paper,” explained Mr James Moore. “He believed he had control of the situation and burned paper and a wooden broom.”

The court heard there had been three different fires in the house. There were two gas cannisters in a cupboard, which were potentially a threat had the fire got out of control.

Both men pleaded guilty to arson. The judge, Recorder Jason MacAdam, told them “this fire was caused through stupidity rather than malice.”

He gave each man, who had been of previous good character, a 12-month community order, with 120 hours of unpaid work to do in the community.

The judge added that both of them had done a great deal of good in their lives, and were “dedicated to doing good acts for people in the future.”

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