Flat was torched in failed suicide bid, court hears

RESIDENTS in a sheltered housing block had their lives put in peril when an arsonist torched a flat.

Troubled resident Katrina Davis, 28, from Eastbourne, set the apartment where she was living ablaze in a failed suicide bid, a Crown Court heard.

But for the prompt action of staff and fire fighters, the flames could have spread to the remaining eight flats - all of them occupied by vulnerable people, it was revealed.

It led to Davis, of South Cliff, pleading guilty to arson recklessly endangering the lives of others when she appeared before a judge at Guildford.

The court was told that the fire was started at the premises in Heathcote Road, Epsom, Surrey, on November 11 last year.

Carolyn Graham, prosecuting, said, “The defendant was not allowed to have matches or a lighter because of a previous incident.”

But, she said, Davis managed to trick a member of staff into lending her a lighter.

“Unfortunately, the staff member was distracted by another matter,” said Ms Graham.

Guildford Crown Court heard that Davis then took the lighter to her flat and set fire to a number of items which she had put in her bath.

“Ten minutes later, the fire alarm went off and a lot of smoke was seen coming from the flat,” said Ms Graham.

She said £7,000 worth of damage was done to the apartment by the brief blaze.

“The heat did damage to the bathroom, melted the extractor fan and the window panes were burnt,” said Ms Graham.

She said that the safety of other occupants of the building had been put at risk by the defendant’s actions.

Ms Graham said that when Davis was quizzed about why she had done it, she replied, “I wanted to kill myself.”

The court was told that the defendant had no previous convictions.

Laura Plant, defending, said her client had epilepsy and now had to spend a lot of time in a wheelchair.

“She is almost wheelchair-bound now,” she said.

Judge Peter Moss said “This is a long-term issue. She is a risk to other persons in any unit she’s in, it seems to me.”

But Ms Plant said her client was now in new accommodation where she could receive round-the-clock supervision.

Davis was remanded on bail until July 1 for pre-sentence reports.

Judge Moss said, “I’m not going to send her to prison if I can help it.”