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Arson architect A respected architect who was jailed for torching his friend’s Range Rover and sending menacing letters to his family after being threatened with legal action in a row over ‘negligent’ work has been struck off.
Christopher Chapman was caught on CCTV pouring oil on Robb Simms-Davies’ £67,000 car and setting it alight outside his £3.5million mansion while he was inside having dinner with his partner and children.
The architect, who runs his own practice, returned to his address the next day and posted a letter threatening that his family would ‘never be safe’ unless he withdrew his complaint-and asked ‘just how truly valuable’ his children were.
The disciplinary hearing was told Chapman, who ran Berkshire-based Christopher Chapman Associates, was commissioned in 2019 on an 18-month contract for works on Mr Simms-Davies’s home.
Chapman received a legal letter from Mr Simms-Davies, who was a ‘long-term client and business friend’ in March 2021, which caused a breakdown in their relationship.
The letter warned Mr Simms-Davies planned to start civil proceedings against Chapman in connection with the work he had done at his home, with accusations of ‘negligence’.
He also warned Mr Simms-Davies to ‘walk away’ as it was a battle he would not ‘ever’ win.
In October last year, Chapman was jailed for 26 months at Slough Magistrates’ Court, Berks, after admitting charges of arson, possessing a weapon and intimidating a witness.
Now, following his conviction, an Architects Registration Board committee has ruled the ‘very serious’ offenses must result in him being thrown out of the profession.
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Jailed for firebombing his friend’s £67K Range Rover
The panel heard he poured oil over his former friend’s high end car and set it on fire – as Mr Simms-Davies was inside having dinner with his partner and children.
The next day, Chapman returned to Mr Simms-Davies’s home and posted two letters.
The panel heard one was ‘intimidating’ and had words to the effect of: ‘Withdraw your proceedings or your family will never be safe from that “tragic accident” ever.
‘Try and escalate and pay severe costs. Life-changing.’
Threatening his children, he added: ‘Just how truly valuable are they? This is not a battle you would ever win, so walk away now.’
The second letter from Chapman was ‘not threatening in nature’, instead simply setting out his response to the legal warning he had received, it was heard.
Chapman then sent a WhatsApp to Mr Simms-Davies to ‘draw attention’ to the letters he had delivered.
A subsequent police search of Chapman’s home found two cans of pepper spray, the panel was told.
In court, the then 68-year-old architect said he had ‘lost the plot’ in carrying out the arson and delivering the letters.
After being jailed for 26 months at his sentencing hearing, Chapman was released on license after serving half of that time in prison.
He also ordered to pay a £190 victim surcharge.
Erasing Chapman from the architect register, the panel said it had a ‘responsibility to protect the public and maintain the reputation of the profession’.
‘The acknowledged allegation has the potential to diminish both [Chapman]’s reputation and that of the profession generally,’ they said.
‘And therefore the parties agree that [Chapman]’s conduct is sufficiently serious to require the imposition of a disciplinary order.
‘In light of the very serious nature of the offenses the parties agree that the imposition of an erasure order is an appropriate and proportionate disciplinary order to impose.’
Chapman, an architect for 35 years, specialized in the design of luxury homes and fine art galleries. His projects include the Clarendon Fine Art Gallery in Mayfair, London, and Whitewall Galleries in Birmingham.
The panel heard he agreed to the order and has no intention of resuming practice again.