Drunken woman tried to kill herself by starting fire in her home

Michelle Hanson
Michelle Hanson

A woman who set a fire in her terraced house which put her neighbours in “clear danger” has been spared jail.

Michelle Hanson, 41, told police when she was arrested that she had started the fire because she “wanted to die” after having a troubling few days.

She had returned to her home on Canon Cockin Street, Sunderland, after a fight with her partner and found there was no gas or electricity, meaning the address was in darkness.

Alec Burns, defending, told Newcastle Crown Court how this, along with the recent conviction of her eldest son and various troubles involving her youngest son resulted in Hanson reaching the end of her tether.

He said: “This was a lady who’s life at this time was very difficult.

“People say they have had a bad day, but they don’t compare with what she had been through.”

Alaric Warmsley, prosecuting, told the court that when Hanson returned home on August 18, 2015, she set fire to a wooden box on her kitchen worktop.

This caused £690 of damage to the council house, charring the kitchen work top and causing smoke damage to much of the property.

He told the court that three fire engines had been sent to attend the incident and when police arrived she was found in a “drunk and distraught” state.

She admitted to police that she “started the fire with the box”, but she had “tried to put it out”.

Hanson, who has nine convictions, was arrested the day before sentencing for breaching her bail conditions and was held overnight in order to attend Newcastle Crown.

It was heard in court that due to the nature of her offence she would find it difficult to be re-homed and the court was adjourned to allow the probation service time to find out if she could live with her daughter.

Upon returning to court it was heard how Hanson’s daughter would not give her a place to stay, resulting in Hanson being declared homeless.

She had pleaded guilty to committing arson recklessly.

Sentencing her Mr Recorder Baird said: “You admitted that you had set the fire and you had done it because you intended to kill yourself.

“This was a terraced property and there was a clear danger to those that lived next door.”

She was given a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years and ordered to complete 40 hours of rehabilitation.