To view original article click here
By Lauren Rogers, Friday 5th June 2009
A “LONER” who endangered people’s lives by starting a fire inside a block of flats has narrowly avoided jail.
Damian Phillips set fire to a pillow case then left it by his front door in a desperate attempt to persuade a housing association he was being victimised by a neighbour.
The 23-year-old called the fire service himself and claimed he had returned home to find the blaze on his front porch.
But firefighters reported the incident as suspicious after realising the fire was started from inside the property in Chedworth Drive, Warndon. Phillips, who now lives in privately rented accommodation in Sansome Place, Worcester, eventually admitted to police he was responsible.
He pleaded guilty to having an article with intent to destroy property thereby endangering life, and appeared at Worcester Magistrates Court for sentencing.
Julie Rosamond, prosecuting, said: “He told officers he had come home about 4pm feeling down and depressed.
“He had not taken his medication and there was this ongoing issue with his neighbour. As a result he took a lighter and used it to set fire to a pillow case.
“He then went out, closed the door and called the fire brigade.”
Jason Patel, defending, told the court Phillips had underlying issues.
He said: “I think it’s clear, and particularly highlighted in the pre-sentence report, that Damian Phillips categorises himself as a loner.
“In relation to this incident he was in a situation where his neighbours were playing loud music.
“He didn’t know how else to deal with the situation and had an idea which quickly became a reality.
“Luckily for all involved it was not a large fire and there was no lasting damage.”
Mr Patel said that those problems would not be solved by Phillips going into custody.
Magistrates sentenced Phillips to eight weeks in jail, suspended for 24 months.
They ordered him to complete a behavioural course and pay £60 court costs.