Man admits to arson at Rastrick flat

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A suicidal 24-year-old wanted to kill himself when he started a fire at his ground floor flat in Rastrick, a court heard today (Thursday).

Wayne Gray set light to a bed and sofa in the living room of his flat on Burnsall Road last July, but the intense heat forced him out of the property and he alerted the emergency services.

Bradford Crown Court heard that by the time the fire service arrived the flat, which was in a block of four, was ablaze and Gray was outside suffering from the effects of smoke inhalation.

Fortunately the occupiers of the two flats above Gray’s were not at home at the time of the evening blaze, but the fire caused damage estimated at £15,000 to his own premises.

Gray, who had no previous convictions, immediately confessed to an officer at the scene that he had started the fire because he wanted to kill himself.

Prosecutor John Bull said Gray told a fire officer that he wished he was still inside the flat.

During a police interview Gray, who had a history of mental health issues, said he had been depressed and was suffering from auditory hallucinations.

He said he knew people lived in the flats above him, but at the time he hadn’t considered any possible risks to them.

Gray admitted a charge of arson being reckless as to whether lives would be endangered and he was jailed for two years.

Judge Peter Benson said that two psychiatric reports on Gray had resulted in conflicting views about whether he should be subject to a hospital order.

But the judge said the two psychiatrists agreed that the defendant suffered from an emotionally unstable personality disorder and that his condition was affected by his misuse of alcohol and drugs.

Lawyer Anne-Marie Hutton, for Gray, said it was clear that his primary motivation for the fire was to end his own life.

She said his emotions had exploded on the day in question and it was clear that he was a young man who had suffered from deeply entrenched mental health issues for many years.

Miss Hutton revealed that Gray had previously attempted to take his own life by jumping in front of a train.

Judge Benson said although the fire itself was unlikely to have spread to the other flats smoke could have seeped into the other premises and anyone asleep could have been injured or killed.