Guardianship order for autistic man who started fire in his Ipswich home

Ipswich Crown Court

Ipswich Crown Court - Credit: Archant

An autistic Ipswich man with a history of starting fires caused more than £5,000 damage by setting light to his flat, a court has heard.

Douglas Armstrong, 45, was living in supported housing in Saunders Mews, Ipswich, when he started a fire in his bedroom on May 23 last year, Ipswich Crown Court was told.

Joanne Eley, prosecuting, told the court Armstrong had a history of autism and learning difficulties and had been supported by social services and mental health care services.

The amount of support he received had become less and he had been living in a first floor flat in a small supported housing complex made up of four flats for five years, said Miss Eley.

On May 23 last year Armstrong told a support worker at around 8.30am that he needed to ring the fire service because there was a fire in his flat.

When the fire service arrived there was smoke coming out of his front door and from under the eaves of the roof.

The seat of the fire was traced to the bedroom and was quickly extinguished, said Miss Eley.

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She said the fire caused £5,723 damage.

The court heard that in 1990 Armstrong had set fire to his grandmother’s house on two consecutive nights and had started fires at his place of work in 1992 and 1993.

This was followed in 2005 by him starting a fire in a rubbish bin.

Miss Eley said the fire Armstrong admitted starting last May was his first conviction for arson.

Armstrong, of Mill Lane Great Blakenham admitted arson and was made the subject of a guardianship order under the mental health act.

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