Original article no longer available
The Scunthorpe Telegraph
09:45 – 04 August 2008
A Depressed householder started a fire at his North Lincolnshire address after drinking and taking medication, Grimsby Crown Court heard.
The fire took place on December 23 at Dene Brooksbanks’ then home on Somerby Road, Scunthorpe.
“The defendant and his wife had been the paying tenants at the property for about three months. It was owned by North Lincolnshire Homes,” said Edward Bindloss, prosecuting. Brooksbanks’ daughter, who lived nearby, was first alerted to the blaze.
“She saw flames coming from her father’s window in the living room,” he said.
The house was in darkness except for the light from the burning curtains and the door was unlocked.
A neighbour, Paul Smith, decided to go to Brooksbanks’ assistance and wrapped a towel around his head.
“He went into the living room and saw the defendant in a chair. He tried to pull the defendant out but he did not respond,” said Mr Bindloss.
A fire crew arrived tried to get Brooksbanks out of the smoke-filled property. But they were unsuccessful.
Mr Bindloss said: “The defendant was verbally aggressive to them.”
Police arrived and, following a short struggle, Brooksbanks was arrested and led away from the address.
The court heard a fire investigation report found the living room curtains had been set alight in two separate places.
“The defendant denied lighting the fire, but accepted he was the only person in the house when the fire started,” Mr Bindloss said.
Andrew Bailey, mitigating, said: “He accepts he must have committed the offence. Because of the drink and tablets he had taken he did not remember lighting the curtains. But it is absolutely clear he was the only person who could have done.”
Mr Bailey told the court his client had mental health problems. And, shortly before the fire, his wife had taken his cash and had gone to live with her boyfriend in Kent.
He said the defendant apparently told the fire service he wanted to die. But Brooksbanks had no recollection of this conversation.
Brooksbanks had now changed his medication and was hoping to be able to return to work.
Brooksbanks (45), of Coningsby Road, Scunthorpe, admitted a charge of reckless arson.
Judge John Reddihough told him: “I am prepared to accept you committed this offence because of your state of mind at the time, suffering from depression and also because you deliberately consumed a large amount of alcohol.”
Brooksbanks was given a 40-week jail sentence, suspended for two years. He was also ordered to receive two years supervision, to take part in a probation-run programme and to continue to attend for mental health treatment for a period of 12 months.