Saturday 24 February 2024
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Judge tells dad he’s ‘lucky’ not to be facing murder charge after setting fire to his home

A judge has told a man he is lucky not to be facing a murder charge after he set fire to his own flat.

Andrew Cutts lit a small bonfire inside his living room in the hope it would spread to a neighbouring property, whose occupants he had fallen out with.

He then walked out of his flat and called 999, although he did nothing to put the blaze out himself.

Firefighters were quickly at the scene in Ferndale Close, Boughton, and put the fire out before it managed to get out of control.

While they tackled the flames, Cutts became involved in a confrontation with his neighbour’s cousin and punched him in the face.

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Police attended and arrested Cutts. During his police interview, he told officers he’d been having ongoing problems with his neighbours, who he accused of making noise to upset him.

The 47-year-old went on to plead guilty to arson with intent to endanger life and assault by occasioning actual bodily harm following the incident in the early hours of 2 January this year.

He received a two-year prison sentence, suspended for two years.

Passing sentence, Judge Stuart Rafferty QC told Cutts he might have been facing a murder charge had it not been for the prompt actions of the fire service.

He said: “You are a lucky man. You accept to started a fire deliberately intending to cause harm to others.

“It maybe that you called the fire service to report what you had done but you did nothing to put the fire out – you simply walked away from it.

“The reason you did this was because you had reached a state of paranoid belief that people next door were trying to make your life a misery by making as much noise as possible.

“You had sought help with that but nothing had happened and you were clearly frustrated about that and you did this awful act.”

The judge said had the fire service arrived a few minutes later, the blaze Cutts started could have proved fatal.

“Your house would have gone up and the houses to both sides would have gone up,” Judge Rafferty QC said. “Innocent people might have been killed.”

Despite the severity of his actions, Judge Rafferty QC said he would suspend the prison sentence for two years to enable Cutts to obtain professional help for his mental health issues.

He said: “You have suffered for many years with post-traumatic stress disorder, which is a debilitating mental illness.

“It will take many years of therapy before you can cope with the problems you have.”

Following the sentencing, Detective Sergeant Lauren Morgan said: “Cutts’ actions that day could have led to devastating consequences.

“As alluded to by the judge, it was only the swift response from our fire service colleagues that meant no-one was harmed or killed.

“I am pleased Cutts has now been made accountable for his actions and that he now gets the help he needs.”

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