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21st May, 2022

Man set chair alight in block of flats before going up to his flat, leaving it in flames

A MAN set fire to a chair in the foyer of the block of flats in Whitnash where he lived, and then got into the lift to go up to his flat, leaving it in flames.

Fortunately, the chair was made of flame-retardant material, and the fire started by Michael McGuire went out before it could spread, Warwick Crown Court has heard.

The 61-year-old, of Landor House, Crutchley Way, was jailed for two-and-a-half years after pleading guilty to arson being reckless whether lives were endangered.

Prosecutor Christopher Hewertson said some time after 8pm on November 14, McGuire went into the foyer and set fire to a chair that was there for the residents.

He then went back to his flat but the flame-retardant nature of the chair meant the flames died down quickly and were naturally extinguished.

Mr Hewertson, who said it was accepted the damage was limited, pointed out that the block houses 31 flats specifically for people over the age of 55.

The result of the fire was discovered by another resident as she went out to take her dog for a walk at shortly after 10pm and noticed ‘a black sticky mess’ under the chair.

The police were contacted, and a CCTV recording from the foyer showed McGuire had been responsible.

When he was arrested he claimed it had been an accident, and that he thought he had seen a rat under the chair, so had struck a match to try to find it.

Mr Hewertson added McGuire had a number of old convictions for violence and dishonesty, but no recent ones.

Sean Logan, defending, said McGuire had been depressed and lonely and it was a cry for help. He added there had been no intention to harm anyone.

Jailing McGuire, Judge Anthony Potter told him: “Happily for you, as much as for anyone else, that fire went out relatively quickly.

“It matters not the particular damage caused. You had no idea when you set fire to it what would happen.

“But it’s clear you are ashamed by your actions and that at the time you were suffering from depression.”

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