Arsonist Barricades Himself in a Burning Flat & Threatens to Stab Police: 4 Years in Prison

Paragraph five reads:  "Ellwood had started drinking earlier that day, mixing alcohol with medication for depression, after being told we had to leave by his landlord."

SSRI Stories Note:  The Physicians Desk Reference states that antidepressants can cause a craving for alcohol and can cause alcohol abuse. Also, the liver cannot metabolize the antidepressant and the alcohol simultaneously, thus leading to higher levels of both alcohol and the antidepressant in the human body.

Arsonist jailed after fiery Harpenden siege

9:55am Wednesday 13th July 2011

An arsonist who barricaded himself into a burning flat and threatened to stab police officers has been jailed for four years.

Leon Ellwood, 33, was dragged from the smoke-filled building after two “courageous” police officers braved flames and acrid fumes to restrain the out of control drunk.

Judge Marie Catterson imprisoned Ellwood at St Albans Crown Court on Tuesday, after he pleaded guilty to arson, affray, two counts of criminal damage to a police car and another count for setting fire to his flat window.

Police were called by neighbours to find Ellwood throwing furniture from the upstairs flat in Leaside Court, Lower Luton Road, Harpenden, on January 11 this year.

Ellwood had started drinking earlier that day, mixing alcohol with medication for depression, after being told we had to leave by his landlord.

David Chrimes, prosecuting, said police found Ellwood throwing his furniture from the second floor window at about 7pm.

Ellwood continued "lobbing" items from the window, including an armchair, sofa, cabinet and various electrical goods including a toaster.

Mr Chrimes said "anything he could get his hands on," was thrown, causing damage to a windscreen and number plate of two police cars.

Officers tried to reason with Ellwood, who continued to make threats of stabbing anyone that entered the flat and waved a knife at them through the letter box, having barricaded himself in.

Things then took a more serious turn when Ellwood set fire to a table in the flat, which caught light to the curtains.

Police evacuated residents of the other 11 flats telling one to get out and that there was no time to even put on their shoes.

Two officers PC Carlton Ellwood and Sgt John Middleton, who were praised for their bravery, broke down the door and handcuffed the struggling man with the use of a riot shield and taser.

Jas Kalirai, defending pointed out Ellwood remained out of trouble for ten years, until 2009 when he began drinking again, which exacerbated mental health problems he had been battling for years.

Mr Kalirai asked the court not to impose a suspended prison sentence, but Judge Catterson said only an immediate custodial sentence of four years, with an extended period on licence after release of five years would protect the public.

Judge Catterson went on to commend all the officers for their handling of the situation.

She added: "I want to thank on behalf of the public PC Ellwood and Sgt Middleton for the real personal courage they showed, fighting their way through the barricade where that flat was on fire and being verbally threatened by a man that seemed to be armed with knives.

"They behaved with rare courage and it seems to me the police force and public in Hertfordshire have cause to be very proud of them."