A MOTHER who tried to burn her house down twice with her mentally ill son inside has been jailed for three years.
Irene Bulmer, 55, of Quarry Road, Silksworth, admitted two charges of arson after trying to kill herself because caring for her adult son on her own had become too much.
On February 7 she attempted to burn her house down while drunk by setting fire to living room curtains while her son was in bed, causing £280 of damage. Newcastle Crown Court heard despite telling paramedics she was trying to kill herself, she was examined by a crisis team before being released and allowed to go back to the property. Then on April 14, again after drinking heavily, Bulmer set light to clothes on the running machine in her bedroom.
Her son Peter, a paranoid schizophrenic, was again in his bedroom and both mother and son had to be rescued from the burning building.
Their neighbour, Stagecoach bus driver Ray Wallace, was later honoured by his bosses for saving the then 31-year-old son from the blaze. Bridie Smurthwaite, prosecuting, said: “The defendant kept telling the fire service that she should have died in the fire.
“She said that she didn’t want to burn to death but thought the smoke would consume her.”
Ms Smurthwaite added Bulmer had not wanted to harm her son or their 82-year-old neighbour, who has to use a mobility scooter, and thought the fire alarm would alert them.
Bulmer, who has three previous convictions for arson, conceded she had not been thinking clearly and not given much thought to their safety.
The total cost of the damage from the second fire was £9,835, leaving the home uninhabitable.
Glen Gatland, defending, said: “The fires were set out of impulse and while in drink and I do not believe they were genuine suicide attempts but expressing hopelessness at her situation.
“She is a lady who has had significant difficulties trying to cope with her son on her own with very little assistance from outside services.”
As an example Mr Gatland told the court how her son used to urinate anywhere in the house except the toilet.
Since the authorities became involved Peter had been moved to secure housing, removing Bulmer’s desire to drink, which made her less likely to reoffend, the court heard.
Sentencing Bulmer to three years for each count to run concurrently, Judge Brian Forster said: “In that time you must work with the probation service to overcome your personal problems and secondly you must realise that if you are to have any future in the community you have to break away from your habit of drinking.”