A man described as an “utter pest” was in jail today after a siege which caused thousands of pounds of damage.

Police and fire crews were pelted with slates and bricks as they tried to persuade the man down from rooftops in Colchester.

Firefighters had to retreat at one point and their aerial platform had to be taken out of service after it was struck by debris thrown by Ashley Mathers.

Police also had to protect themselves with shields as Mathers hurled bricks and tiles he ripped from roofs in the town’s Mersea Road.

He also set fire to his coat as he stood on a pub roof, and when firefighters tried to put the blaze out, he started throwing things at them as well.

Mathers, 25, had got drunk after a row with his girlfriend and ended up climbing on to roofs.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard it was not the first time Mathers had been involved in a siege.

He had done something similar a few years ago at another house in the town.

Mathers was told by a judge: “This was appalling and terrifying conduct. You brought about a siege involving many police officers and the fire service and you caused extensive damage.

“Tiles, bricks and chimney pots were thrown down into the street below, where the police and fire officers were,” Judge Anthony Goldstaub QC said.

The judge said he would have liked to have given Mathers a sentence for public protection, which would have meant he would not have been released until the authorities thought it was safe to do so.

The law did not allow this and the judge said his hands were tied by the legislation.

He added: “If it did, I would impose it, as it seems to me you are a serious danger at the moment unless you reform.”

Mathers was jailed for two years.