Chip paper arsonist jailed

Monday 17 December 2012 Updated: 17/12 08:58

A STRATFORD man raised the alarm himself after pushing chip paper through a neighbour’s letter box and setting fire to it.

And at Warwick Crown Court Jodie Hunter pleaded guilty to a charge of arson, being reckless whether the lives of residents would be endangered.

Hunter, 30, of Huxley Court, Regal Road, whose plea of not guilty to arson with intent to endanger life was accepted, was jailed for two years.

Prosecutor Paul Dhami said that in July Hunter lived in a one-bedroom flat in a block of eight in Hathaway Green Lane, Stratford.

There had been a dispute between him and one of his neighbours, as a result of which that tenant, Stephen Clarke, had moved out on a temporary basis and Orbit Housing had served Hunter with an eviction notice.

On Friday July 13 Hunter was seen in an intoxicated state in the town centre, where he had bought some food from a chip shop, so the police took him home.

Thirty minutes later the fire brigade arrived at the property to tackle a fire at the door of Mr Clarke’s flat and noticed Hunter on an upstairs landing.

It was found that the fire had been started by chip paper having been pushed through the letter box and then set alight.

There was fire damage to the door itself and smoke damage to the bedroom, lounge and hallway of the flat – and Mr Dhami pointed out that although Mr Clarke was not there, other flats in the block were occupied.

Another neighbour had seen Hunter pushing paper through the letter box and the door then bursting into flames.

But when he was arrested Hunter, who was said to have ‘quite a dreadful record,’ but nothing for arson, claimed it had nothing to do with him. Hunter had actually asked a neighbour to call the fire bridge.

Julian Harris, defending, submitted that it was ‘at the bottom end of the scale’ of arson offences.

Jailing Hunter, Judge Coates told him: “I accept you made sure the fire brigade were called. That showed you did realise, despite your intoxicated state, the dangerousness of what you had done.

“But things like that can result in people dying from smoke inhalation.

“You lied to the police, but you did plead guilty when the case came to court.”

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