Arsonist set fire to flat after getting eviction notice

Bolton Crown Court

Bolton Crown Court

First published in The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , news feature writer

AN arsonist has been jailed for “recklessly” setting fire to his flat after he was given his eviction notice - despite claiming he had no recollection of the incident.

Clive Humphreys set his flat alight in Chorley New Road, which belonged to Riverside Housing, 15 days after he was told he was being evicted.

It caused £3,769 of damage on March 22.

Bolton Crown Court heard that electrician Martin Nolan was working at the flats and heard the fire alarm go off at 10.40am.

He doused most of the flames with an extinguisher before he called 999.

When Humphreys — who was seen leaving at 10.41am — returned two hours later, he denied the allegations and claimed he must have been burgled.

The 42-year-old later pleaded guilty after seeing himself on CCTV.

Alistair Reid, prosecuting, said: “The defendant was seen leaving at 10.41am. He had a number of bags of property on his shoulder.

“He returned to the property later. He was spoken to by a police officer who showed him the damage. He said he lost his key and that he was not at the premises two hours earlier. He said he must have been burgled.”

Virginia Hayton, for Humphreys, said: “The defendant has no recollection of it whatsoever.

“He had consumed drugs which he is prescribed for nerve damage from when he was the victim of an assault.

“He is heavily medicated and uses various quantities of illicit drugs too. His partner left him. He doesn’t know why he committed the offence.”

Jailing Humphreys for two and a half years, Judge Peter Davies said: “You were given a notice on March 7 and, 15 days later at 10.40am, you decided to leave the flat — but before you left you set fire to it.

“What is disturbing is you knew full well that there were 12 flats with some other people occupying those flats, so any fire in any flat is a risk.

“Three people had to be evacuated because of the fire that you set. Because it was set during the day there were other people around to put it out.

“But what they found not only caused considerable damage but, had the fire not been put out, there was a potential risk of fatality.

“Arson is a dangerous offence. It is reckless to endanger life.”

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