UK man Michael Whitty has been sentenced to three years' jail for an arson attack on a Vodafone cellsite in northwest England.

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The Liverpool Crown Court was told that Whitty (47), had read articles on the internet linking the coronavirus outbreak to 5G mobile network upgrades.

Such theories, which have appeared on Facebook, YouTube and elsewhere have been comprehensively debunked.

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But the court heard that they had caused Whitty to believe 5G was dangerous.

He subsequently targetted a Vodafone cell tower in Merseyside, causing between £10,000 and £15,000 worth of damage was done to the equipment, which was out of operation for 11 days after the fire.

The judge said Whitty, who had 29 previous convictions, including for assault and for possession of a firearm, had shown genuine remorse and conceded that his arson attack was "wrong and disproportionate".

However, Whitty did not backdown from his claim that 5G is harmful.

Here, a 37-year-old man is due to reappear on July 30 at the Manukau District Court following an arson attack on a Vodafone site in Manurewa during April, video of which went viral on Facebook. Police refused to name the man while he was before the courts.

Fires at three celltowers in South Auckland earlier this week brought the recent spate of attacks against cell sites to at least 18.

Spark and Vodafone told the Herald they are now installing cameras, while 2degrees said it was taking undisclosed measures to protect its cell sites.