Sunderland arsonist risked lives with TV blaze

Sean Stephen Thompson
Sean Stephen Thompson
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AN ARSONIST who put his neighbours’ lives at risk when he set fire to his television and then walked out of his flat has been put behind bars.

Sean Thompson, pictured, smashed his TV, which was still plugged in, then put newspapers and a quilt over it to help start the blaze.

Firefighters needed breathing apparatus to extinguish the smoke and flames in the first floor flat fire, which was reported by a worried neighbour.

Nobody was hurt but more than £5,000 -worth of damage was caused to Thompson’s rented home at Croft Avenue in Millfield.

Prosecutor Stuart Michie told Newcastle Crown Court Thompson’s downstairs neighbour was at home when he started the blaze, just after lunchtime last October 24.

Mr Michie said: “It seems to be suggested it would have taken quite a bit of effort to set this thing alight but once alight it would produce copious amounts of hot gases and smoke.”

Thompson, 35, who had been drinking, claimed he did not realise the fire was still going when he left the flat.

Mr Michie added: “The difficulty is here there was nobody in the flat but there was a risk of spread to other flats.”

Judge David Wood jailed Thompson, who had pleaded guilty to arson being reckless to life endangered, for two-and-a-half years.

The judge told him: “Had that fire got away there could have been extreme danger to neighbours downstairs and in the adjoining terrace.”

Thompson told police he had just “flipped his lid” when he attacked the television but said he thought the fire had gone out when he left the flat.

Nigel Barnes, defending, said Thompson has had mental health problems and added: “This was a cry for help of some sort.

“He had been living increasingly as a recluse, on his own.

“It was not his intention to put anyone else in danger at all.”