Tower block blaze woman sent to jail

Swindon Advertiser: Sharon Fry Sharon Fry

A WOMAN who started a fire on the 17th floor of a town centre tower block while hallucinating has been jailed for more than three years.

Sharon Fry told police she threw methylated spirits about and it caught light because the people she thought were in her flat in the David Murray John tower were smoking.

The 54-year-old appeared at Swindon Crown Court yesterday where she was given 40 months in custody for the incident, which happened at 8am on July 9 last year.

The hearing was delayed so a psychiatric report could be compiled on her, which recommended she engage with the community mental health team.

The fire brigade was alerted by the automatic alarms in the tower block and by calls from the public.

Firefighters found the door to her flat open. When they went inside they were confronted by a serious fire and the internal doors were closed, with Fry, of East Street, sheltering from the smoke on her balcony.

Prosecutor Tessa Hingston told the court Fry had been suffering hallucinations when she started the blaze, which had cost Swindon Council £29,000 in repairs.

In mitigation, Rob Ross said his client had been suffering from a reaction to alcohol, something she had been struggling with, along with disability.

He said: “We have heard about this offence itself and she is a lady of good character – the references from her friends attest to that.

“She has laboured under a number of disabilities and problems both physically and mentally for a very long time.

“To be frank, probably in an attempt to deal with it, she has taken to drink.

“While this incident was probably a culmination of numerous things, she seemed to suffer some sort of alcoholic hallucinations.

“She appears to have been, in many ways, not a criminal but a very vulnerable lady who has ended up committing this offence.”

In jailing her judge Douglas Field said: “The medical diagnosis is you were suffering from recurrent mental behavioural disorder due to alcohol but your explanation to police was bizarre.

“This offence is so serious that it must be immediate custody save for the most exceptional circumstances.

“You are a lady of good character but having read all the material this case is not a most exceptional case.”

Comments (7)

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6:56am Sat 2 Jun 12

TinkeyWinkey says...

I remember when this happened as the area was a no-go for a while. Back then I thought all those poor people stuck in that building, so just glad there were no fatalities.
I remember when this happened as the area was a no-go for a while. Back then I thought all those poor people stuck in that building, so just glad there were no fatalities. TinkeyWinkey

7:19am Sat 2 Jun 12

Simples! says...

Are there any criminals that don't use mental health as an excuse for their crimes? Such a cop out but I've got a solution. If they are mental build a hospital on a desert island far far away & leave them there. If they ain't mental send them to Australia like the good ol days!
Are there any criminals that don't use mental health as an excuse for their crimes? Such a cop out but I've got a solution. If they are mental build a hospital on a desert island far far away & leave them there. If they ain't mental send them to Australia like the good ol days! Simples!

9:42am Sat 2 Jun 12

LordAshOfTheBrake says...

Another Rob Ross sob story as a defense to serious crimes putting lives in danger!

When was the last time you heard of friends giving a poor character reference?

Quote "she is a lady of good character – the references from her friends attest to that. "
Another Rob Ross sob story as a defense to serious crimes putting lives in danger! When was the last time you heard of friends giving a poor character reference? Quote "she is a lady of good character – the references from her friends attest to that. " LordAshOfTheBrake

10:35am Sat 2 Jun 12

KARMATO ALL WHO SEEK TO POINT THE FINGER says...

Isn't it wonderful all those people who sit in judgement without knowing the facts! If you know what this poor woman had been through, you wouldn't be so quick to point the finger!
She is a victim of cancer and now of the courts!
I bet given the choice you wouldn't want her life! Think on!
Isn't it wonderful all those people who sit in judgement without knowing the facts! If you know what this poor woman had been through, you wouldn't be so quick to point the finger! She is a victim of cancer and now of the courts! I bet given the choice you wouldn't want her life! Think on! KARMATO ALL WHO SEEK TO POINT THE FINGER

11:09am Sat 2 Jun 12

I 2 Could B says...

Either mentally ill people are a threat to safety, or they're not.

If we're expecting to believe that they are not, then they must be viewed as equal in court and no discrimination should be applied by the judiciary.

Every criminal has an 'excuse', embellished and enhanced by their defence lawyers - the problem remains that they still committed the crime.

Unsurprisingly, this lady has been sentenced extraordinarily leniently. Depending on the amount of damage caused, the maximum sentence for arson is either Life or 10 years.

In this case, the criminal concerned will be free from prison in less than 2 years.
Either mentally ill people are a threat to safety, or they're not. [p] If we're expecting to believe that they are not, then they must be viewed as equal in court and no discrimination should be applied by the judiciary. [p] Every criminal has an 'excuse', embellished and enhanced by their defence lawyers - the problem remains that they still committed the crime. [p] Unsurprisingly, this lady has been sentenced extraordinarily leniently. Depending on the amount of damage caused, the maximum sentence for arson is either Life or 10 years. [p] In this case, the criminal concerned will be free from prison in less than 2 years. I 2 Could B

10:36am Sun 3 Jun 12

adelaideboy says...

' Are there any criminals that don't use mental health as an excuse for their crimes? Such a cop out but I've got a solution. If they are mental build a hospital on a desert island far far away & leave them there. If they ain't mental send them to Australia like the good ol days'

I'm afraid sending them to Australia would be a reward these days.
' Are there any criminals that don't use mental health as an excuse for their crimes? Such a cop out but I've got a solution. If they are mental build a hospital on a desert island far far away & leave them there. If they ain't mental send them to Australia like the good ol days' I'm afraid sending them to Australia would be a reward these days. adelaideboy

12:24pm Sun 3 Jun 12

Localboy86 says...

Nasty nasty people
Nasty nasty people Localboy86

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