Arsonist who set his own home on fire is jailed

Blaze at Louisa Street in Halliwell

Blaze at Louisa Street in Halliwell

First published in News The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

AN ARSONIST who set his home on fire, endangering neighbours in his terraced street, has been jailed at Bolton Crown Court.

Malcolm McGrath barricaded the back door of his rented house in Louisa Street, Halliwell, with a fridge freezer and set fires in the living room and a bedroom, causing damage estimated at £55,000.

Families had to be evacuated from their neighbouring homes as firefighters battled to stop the flames spreading in the blaze on November 1 last year.

Nicholas Flanagan, prosecuting, told the court how 49-year-old McGrath, an amphetamine addict, had run out of the property into the street shouting, “You’ve killed my mother, you’ve killed my mother” at 3.30pm.

Then he rushed back inside and residents heard smashing and banging from the house where McGrath lived for the previous 14 years.

Ten minutes later smoke was seen coming from the front door.

McGrath, who left the house, barricaded the back door and firemen had to break into the property in order to tackle the blaze.

Mr Flanagan told the court that two months earlier McGrath had assaulted a neighbour who asked him to turn his music down.

At 5.30pm on August 23, Paul Hamer had knocked on McGarth’s door complaining about the loudness of the music.

The court heard Mr Hamer was carrying an implement and so McGrath lashed out at him, hitting him on the head, hand and shoulder with a wooden stair spindle, causing minor injuries.

McGrath pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered and assault causing actual bodily harm.

Andrew Costello, defending, said McGrath accepted his actions hitting Mr Hamer went beyond self-defence but added that he has struggled for 20 years with an addiction to amphetamines, suffers from depression and has little recollection of the incident.

Recorder Karen Brody accepted McGrath had mental health issues but said it was not known what had caused him to set his home alight.

Sentencing him to four years and two months in jail she told him: “What makes this a really serious matter is you have neighbours where you lived in a terraced house and this fire could have spread to the other properties.

“You could have caused death, or serious injury, to your neighbours.”

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