Detention order for fire-starter

A MENTALLY-ill man is being detained in hospital today after deliberately starting a fire in the Felixstowe flats where he lived.

A MENTALLY-ill man is being detained in hospital today after deliberately starting a fire in the Felixstowe flats where he lived.

After expert advice, Ipswich Crown Court decided Dale Williams was not fit to enter a plea to arson with intent to endanger life and recklessly endangering life.

The 52-year-old has been diagnosed with a psychological disorder known as Korsakoff's syndrome. The condition is said to have dementia-like symptoms.

However, a hearing went ahead to decide whether Williams set light to his own flat in Cornwall Road on March 18 this year and put the lives of the building's other occupants at risk.

Prosecutor Azza Brown told the court that around 6.45am Williams' neighbours were awoken by a loud bang at the premises.

Thick smoke was then seen coming from the window of his flat.

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When firefighters and police arrived Williams was seen carrying a bucket of liquid around with him, while trying to put out the fire.

Specialist investigators later discovered several fires had been ignited by naked flames in various part of the flat where Williams lived alone.

Miss Brown read out statements from four other people living in the building owned by Suffolk Heritage, all of whom had to be evacuated from their homes.

Statements were also read out to the jury from police officers who were despatched to the blaze.

When they arrived they saw flames coming from Williams' flat. Smoke prevented the first officer from locating him.

A second officer, Pc Mark Hurrell, found Williams in the kitchen area and managed to drag him out of the flat.

The court heard Williams was still holding to a grey bucket and laughingly told the officer he was trying to put the blaze out.

Williams was arrested shortly afterwards.

When the damage was first assessed it was said to have been valued at �10,000-�15,000, but would possibly end up being a higher figure.

After hearing the evidence the jury determined Williams was responsible for starting the fire.

Judge Peter Thompson made an order under the Mental Health Act for Williams to be detained at a mental hospital.

Korsakoff's syndrome is a brain disorder usually associated with heavy alcohol consumption over a long period. Although it is not strictly speaking a dementia, people with the condition experience loss of short-term memory.

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