Sunderland woman set fires in her ex-partner's home

A drunk woman who set fires in her ex partner's home after they broke up has been spared jail.

Friday, 20th September 2019, 4:50 pm
Updated Saturday, 21st September 2019, 1:27 pm
Amy Burrell

Amy Burrell had split from the man just before Christmas last year.

After downing alcohol, the 31-year-old broke in to his flat in Sunderland while he was out and set three seats of fire in an attempt to harm herself.

Newcastle Crown Court heard it was a multi occupancy building, with one other person present at the time, but fortunately the blazes were extinguished before they got out of hand.

Burrell, of Hylton Road, Sunderland, pleaded guilty to arson being reckless and was sentenced to 12 months suspended for two years.

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Judge Stephen Earl said: "Multiple people potentially were endangered and no harm checks were carried out because she entered through the window and couldn't be sure who was in the property."

The judge said usually such offences would attract prison sentences but said there was a "realistic prospect the defendant will be fully rehabilitated in terms of this sort of offending for the future".

He added: "This was the last straw that broke the camel's back, effectively.

"She should be given the opportunity to work with the Probation Service."

Prosecutor Neil Pallister told the court it was on December 28 last year that the victim went out in Sunderland city centre.

Mr Pallister said: "Some time after midnight the complainant got a phone call saying the defendant had turned up at his address and started a fire.

"He informed the police and returned home."

Police attended the building and found a small seat of fire in front of a bay window and window panes had been smashed, in addition to one that was already broken that she had climbed through to gain access.

A police officer extinguished the fire then became aware of Burrell in the room, sitting on the floor.

He then saw there was a second, smaller fire, on the couch and by this time the room was filling with smoke.

Burrell was escorted from the room and then a third seat of fire was found on the carpet.

Burrell, who was heavily intoxicated, told officers her ex had been violent to her and then she became abusive.

Mr Pallister said: "She was interviewed and said she had split up from him after domestic violence.

"She had been drinking heavily and went to his address. She said she was angry and upset and decided she wanted to kill herself, she wanted to breathe in smoke and go to sleep.

"She said she used a music speaker to smash windows but denied wanting to cause a serious fire and denied wanting anyone else to be hurt."

The fires caused only minor damage but the total cost, including for the windows Burrell broke, was £975.

The court heard Burrell had a difficult upbringing and "has been treated appallingly throughout her life", particularly by men.

Her barrister said she is remorseful about what she did.