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Man sets fire to his own home – then assaults firefighters who rush to help

A man has been jailed after setting fire to his flat and then assaulting emergency workers who came to help him.

Reuben Woolley was in his first storey flat in Helston Drive, Bilborough, when emergency services went in to tackle the fire, which had been reported by a concerned member of the public.

Firefighters used a ladder to gain entry through the window and as they got inside the address, Woolley hit one of them across his helmet with a metal bar, knocking him to the ground. He got up only to be met by more aggression from the 38-year-old, who delivered a second blow with the metal bar, causing the firefighter to fall onto his breathing equipment and injuring his shoulders and back.

Woolley was able to be separated into another room and police were called to the scene whilst he was detained. He was subsequently arrested and taken to the Queen’s Medical Centre to be checked over whilst he was under arrest.

Fire crews were quickly able to contain and put out the fire following the incident on Sunday 20 December 2020.

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Once in at the Bridewell Custody suite, Woolley also spat at two detention officers.

Reuben Woolley appeared at Nottingham Crown Court on Friday (7 January 2021) charged with arson, causing actual bodily harm and two counts of assaulting an emergency worker.

He was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison.

Detective Constable Wendy Brown, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “It is awful to hear that an emergency worker has been assaulted. The behaviour displayed by Woolley during this incident was absolutely unacceptable.

“The fire service worked extremely hard following the report of the fire to get to the incident, make sure people were safe and ensure that the fire was contained. The incident took place within a block of flats, so the risk for this to cause harm to other people and property was significant.

“Emergency responders should never be met with this kind of aggression and they certainly should not have to face being assaulted whilst they are trying to do their job. This was particularly unpleasant as a firefighter was struck to the head with a metal bar.

Swift action by the attending police officers meant that Woolley was quickly brought into custody, where he later went on to assault two detention officers.

Woolley ignited the fire which could have very easily caused serious harm, not only to him but also to the occupants of adjoining properties. He injured a firefighter and spat on two detention officers in the midst of the pandemic. He will now serve some time behind bars and I hope he uses this time to reflect on his actions.”

Station Manager at Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, Tom Clark, said: “Thankfully, most people respect our employees and support our work to keep communities safe, but there are some people who actively try to prevent firefighters doing their job and in this case undertook a particularly nasty attack on our crew members. This despicable act upon emergency service personnel is totally unacceptable.

“We worked with our Nottinghamshire Police in supporting the investigation into both the attack and the fire investigation and I very pleased at this outcome. Hopefully those that choose to take this course of action will see that we take attacks on our emergency service personnel seriously, and there are serious consequences.

“Not only did this individual attack our crews, he put them and himself in danger by setting his flat on fire deliberately.

“Despite the violence demonstrated, crews still managed to extinguish the fire preventing it escalating into an incident that could have had far wider consequences, however it did pose risk to life and tied up emergency services from being able to respond to other emergencies.”

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