JAILED: Arsonist who targeted neighbour's home

An arsonist who started a blaze outside his neighbour's front door has been jailed for 16 months.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 10th September 2017, 5:55 pm
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 12:35 pm

Joseph Thomas Stephen Williams, 33, of Warbreck Drive, Blackpool, set a pile of newspapers ablaze after headbutting his neighbour’s door, Preston Crown Court was told.

A count of threatening behaviour was ordered to lie on the file by Judge Jonathan Gibson.

Prosecuting, Stephen Parker said: “The defendant, during the course of the afternoon, had come home drunk. He seemed to have some issues with (his neighbour) and when he had been confronted he had lost his temper, and headbutted the front door, knocking himself to the ground.

“The aftermath of that was witnessed by another resident who says she heard all the commotion. She had seen the defendant with blood on his forehead and blood on the front door. There were other incidents throughout the afternoon.

“The defendant returned to the flat and banged on the door. He came to the flat on numerous occasions clearly drunk, shouting nonsense.”

The court was told the victims overheard Williams saying: “This whole place is getting burnt down.” and had thought nothing of it, but later they heard the flint of a lighter outside the door and could smell smoke.

They texted a message to a neighbour which said: “ Ring the police please, he’s setting a fire.”

The man and woman ran out of the flat and could see a pile of smouldering paper, which the defendant had already put out. He was arrested.

He later said: “ I shouldn’t have done it, I stamped it out straight away. I’m sorry.”

The court heard he had struggled with mental health issues, suicidal thoughts and alcoholism.

On the day, he had been drinking lager since 10.30am and was irritated by noise at the flats. Julie Taylor, defending, revealed he had previously suffered the bereavement of his baby who was born prematurely, and alcoholism was linked to his previous criminal record.

She added: “He says he’s never going to touch a drop of alcohol again.

“He’d had a good upbringing and is clearly a man of some intelligence and a man who could, if he could remain sober, be productive to society and hold down employment.

“Even though he was drunk he had the common sense to put it straight back out and so no damage was caused apart from smoke damage to the door frame and singeing to the carpet.

He accepts the neighbours must have been very frightened smelling that smoke but thankfully nothing has spread any further.