Video captures Sunderland arsonist lying to paramedics after setting neighbour's flat on fire

Here’s the moment an arsonist from Sunderland lies to paramedics by claiming he ran into a fire in an attempt to save his neighbour before admitting he had actually started the fire.

Friday, 16th April 2021, 10:59 am
Updated Friday, 16th April 2021, 12:07 pm

Robert Barnett, of no fixed abode, pretended to play the hero by running into a fire which he claimed was to save his neighbour after her flat went up in flames on Whitehall Terrace in Sunderland just before midnight in August 2019.

The 30-year-old pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life is endangered when he appeared at Newcastle Crown Court on Tuesday, April 13.

Barnett who lived downstairs, said he had heard “screaming” and saw his neighbour’s staircase engulfed in flames before the woman trapped upstairs jumped from a top-floor window and was left with a fractured spine.

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Robert Barnett told paramedics he tried to save his neighbour in a fire he had actually started.

After the fire had started, Barnett was seen on CCTV running out of his address and calling 999 before suffering burns to his feet and hands after running through the fire in a pair of trousers which he believed were fire-resistant along with a quilt.

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The 30-year-old arsonist initially refuted his involvement and insisted he was just trying to help his neighbour but had in fact started the fire, after he was caught on CCTV going in and out of his neighbour’s address in the moments before the blaze.

Detective Sergeant David Vincent, of Northumbria Police, said: “Robert Barnett tried to convince everybody that he was the hero, who was willing to sacrifice his own safety in a bid to rescue his neighbour who he believed to be trapped upstairs.

Robert Barnett is due to be sentenced this summer.

“But his account was built on lies – knowing full well that he was the one who had lit the flame and caused the significant blaze that had engulfed the property.

“The victim suffered significant injuries as a result of the blaze and her health has since deteriorated. It must have been a horrifying experience for her, fearing she was trapped and her only escape was to jump out of her upstairs window.

“It is therefore imperative that the person responsible is brought to justice, and I sincerely hope this outcome can offer the victim and her family some comfort.”

He is due to be sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court on July 12.

Robert Barnett started the fire in his neighbour's house.

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The female occupant jumped from the window to escape the fire.
Robert Barnett started the fire in his neighbours home in 2019.