Arsonist jailed for setting his mother's shed on fire

Dorset Echo: Arsonist jailed for setting his mother's shed on fire Arsonist jailed for setting his mother's shed on fire

A MAN who admitted causing a fire in his mother’s shed has been jailed.

Stephen John Gray, 47, admitted a charge of arson relating to a fire at Gould’s Hill near Upwey on June 2.

Jennie Rickman, prosecuting, told the court that Gray had been seen by his mother at her place of work earlier in the day and had been drinking.

He was later seen by neighbours heading down the side of his mother’s house and the neighbours contacted the fire brigade after noticing smoke coming from the shed at around 5pm.

Gray, of Flaxfield Road, Beaminster, pleaded guilty on the basis that he had been into the shed and smoked numerous cigarettes that he admitted he left in an ash tray on an armchair in the shed and accepted he had not made efforts to make sure they had been properly extinguished.

The defendant said in his basis of plea: “I accept I was reckless and failed to make sure that all the cigarette ends were out before I left.”

The court was told that, as well as damage to the shed, heat damage was caused to the neighbouring conservatory with the total value of all the damage amounting to just under £15,000.

Tim Shorter, mitigating, said Gray had never sought to blame anyone else for the fire and claimed his client was also a loser from the incident as most of what was in the shed belonged to him.

He added: “It was a reckless rather than deliberate arson.”

Gray was also sentenced for an offence of assault by beating Christine Young, whom he was in a relationship with at the time of the offence, on May 24.

The court was told they were in a car together when Gray held a pair of garden shears toward her throat and made threats before pulling her hair.

The incident was seen by a member of the public, who informed the police and Gray was arrested a short time after. Mr Shorter said Miss Young had since forgiven the defendant and had made an ‘enormous effort’ to help Gray.

Judge Roger Jarvis sentenced Gray to 40 weeks in prison for the arson offence and a further six weeks for the assault.

The judge also imposed a restraining order preventing Gray from going to his mother’s address.

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