Troubled woman caused £30,000 damage by setting fire to her Gentoo home in Sunderland

A troubled woman who sparked a £30,000 blaze at her home has kept her freedom.

Wendy Walker started a fire on a sofa in the living room then left the house and told a neighbour "I've rang the fire brigade, I'm sorry".

Prosecutor Paul Rooney explained the scene to Newcastle Crown court when the case was heard on Friday, July 1.

Mr Rooney said: "She was described as covered in a black substance, mainly on her face and hands, which looked like soot."

The incident caused £30,000 of damage.

The court heard Walker, who had been drinking, said at the scene of the blaze, at Gartland Road, Sunderland in October 2020, that she "wanted to die".

Mr Rooney said a fire investigation concluded that no accelerant had been used in the blaze, but the flames had taken hold due to the soft furnishings on the sofa.

He added: "The estimated cost to repair the damage caused was approximately £30,000."

Shocking pictures show the devastation caused to the living room and kitchen as a result of the blaze.

Wendy Walker.

Walker, 57, of Hampdon Road, Sunderland, admitted arson being reckless to whether life would be endangered, when she appeared at court.

The court heard the house, which was owned by Sunderland’s social housing landlord Gentoo, was semi-detached but the next door neighbour was away at the time and Walker knew that.

Tony Cornberg, defending, told the court how Walker was suffering from anxiety and depression at the time and had made multiple attempts at self harm.

Mr Cornberg said Walker described alcohol as her "best friend" at the time of the incident, and she was hospitalised due to her mental health after the fire.

Pictures show the shocking damage to Wendy Walker's home.

The court heard she is now alcohol free, is involved in volunteering and charity work, has good references and support.

Judge Robert Spragg told Walker things had changed since the incident.

He said: "At that point you were at your lowest ebb.

"You have made a remarkable transformation since then.

Pictures show the shocking damage to Wendy Walker's home.

"You are a very long way now from where you were."Judge Spragg sentenced Walker to two years imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, with rehabilitation requirements and 100 hours unpaid work.

Pictures show the shocking damage to Wendy Walker's home.
Pictures show the shocking damage to Wendy Walker's home.
Pictures show the shocking damage to Wendy Walker's home.