Prison term for Kendal arsonist who set fire to flat and yelled: "Burn, burn" (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Prison term for Kendal arsonist who set fire to flat and yelled: "Burn, burn"
12:27pm Tuesday 10th September 2013 in News
A KENDAL woman has been jailed for two years for starting a fire that virtually destroyed her ground floor flat.
Sheila Greaves, 52, had been binge drinking when a candle set fire to an armchair, causing £80,000 damage to her home in Marvic Court, New Inn Yard, off Highgate, Kendal, Carlisle Crown Court was told.
Prosecuting counsel Patrick Buckley said that earlier in the evening of the fire, three police officers had gone to Greaves’ flat after she complained of being beaten up by a male friend.
After giving a “confused account” of what had happened she admitted there was no truth in her allegation and the police left, he said.
But three hours later - near midnight - she called the emergency services again, said Mr Buckley for the prosecution.
This time it was to say that her home – one of a block of nine flats - was on fire and she was concerned for the safety of her neighbours.
When the police and fire service arrived they found her sitting outside her flat and she was arrested, Mr Buckley said.
The court heard neighbours later told police they had heard Greaves “banging about” and shouting “Burn, burn!”.
Mr Buckley said it was impossible to say exactly how the blaze had started, though it was certain the seat of the fire was the armchair.
He said Greaves had told investigators that it had started with a candle and it was not possible to say she was wrong.
Defence counsel Chris Evans said Greaves said it had been “a drunken reckless accident.”
He said Greaves had had a “difficult and troubled upbringing” and had resorted to taking drugs and drinking too much.
He said she had done well in prison while on remand, and had gained ten qualifications there.
“She describes her own state of mind as being in a far better place now than it was when she committed this offence,” he said.
Greaves pleaded guilty to a charge of arson, being reckless as to whether people’s lives were endangered.
Judge Peter Hughes QC said she had shown “a high degree of recklessness.”
He said other people living in the flats could easily have been killed or seriously injured.
“Other people were in bed and the fire could easily have spread to the adjoining flats,” he said.
The fire led to around 10 people being evacuated and the RSPCA had to re-home her two young cats.
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