Community order for woman who set fire in disabled friend’s Ipswich flat

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Ipswich Crown Court. Picture: GREGG BROWN - Credit: Gregg Brown

An Ipswich woman who started a fire in the flat of a disabled man who had to be rescued by the fire service has been given a community order.

Christina Brown had been staying at her friend David Poulter’s flat at Hanover Court sheltered housing in Lacey Street, Ipswich, when she set light to newspapers on the floor near the front door, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Mr Poulter, who walks with a crutch and has lung disease, got up at around 6am on December 3 and found a small fire in his hallway, said Michael Crimp, prosecuting.

He tried to open the front door but it was locked with a door chain that hadn’t been put on by him and as the windows to the flat didn’t open fully, he had no way out of the flat, the court heard.

He went into the kitchen and got a damp cloth and put it over the newspapers and then saw Brown walking unsteadily around the flat.

He then saw her unsuccessfully try to light some papers in the living room before she set light to a cushion, said Mr Crimp.

An alarm wen off and Mr Poulter told the warden the fire service would have to force their way into his flat.

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When the fire service arrived Mr Poulter was given oxygen and treated for a burn to his finger, said Mr Crimp.

Brown, 48, of Woodbridge Road, Ipswich, admitted arson beings reckless as to whether life would be endangered and was given a two year community order, a 60 day rehabilitation activity requirement and a 12 month alcohol treatment programme.

She was also banned from contacting Mr Poulter indefinitely.

The court heard she had previous convictions for arson in 2010 and 2012 when she had been given non-custodial sentences.

Sentencing Brown, Judge Rupert Overbury said she had been in custody since December and had served the equivalent of a 12 month sentence.

He said she had done “extremely well” while she had been in prison and he was prepared to give her the opportunity to make the changes she had made permanent.

He said she had expressed remorse for what she had done.

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