An arsonist who sparked a £25,000 house blaze after a row with his flatmate has been jailed for life.
Scott Chapman set fire to his rival’s bedroom in the flat they shared at Dean Road, South Shields, which caused the ceiling to collapse and neighbours to flee their home as it filled with potentially deadly smoke.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the 29-year-old had used matches to set fire to bedding in the room during the arson attack on September 19, while the two men he shared the house with were out.
Chapman had moved his own belongings out of the mid-terrace property before he started the fire.
At Newcastle Crown Court yesterday Mr Recorder Andrew Sandiford said Chapman – who has previous convictions which include threatening to murder his mother – was a danger to the public.
The judge said: “With little reason or provocation he decided to set fire to a house.
“Fire is unpredictable, the possibility of it spreading and causing injury or death to people is a great one.
“It was done for reasons of revenge, done with very little thought. It is s serious offence of this type.”
He added: “The defendant represents a high level of danger to the public and there is no indication when that danger will cease, if ever.”
The judge said Chapman must serve two years and three months before he can be eligible to apply for parole.
But he warned the arsonist: “You will be detained in custody until the parole board are satisfied you no longer represent a risk to the public.”
The court heard Chapman started the blaze after an argument with one of the two men he shared the house with.
A couple living in the house nextdoor to the blaze had to gather their treasured possessions and leave their home when the smoke started to spread as they prepared to go to bed.
The fire had gone into the ceiling and into the roof timbers of Chapman’s house and £25,000 worth of damage was caused before it was extinguished by firefighters.
The judge said: “The risk to others was very real and significant.”
The court heard in 2007 Chapman was convicted of two charges of threatening to kill his mother after claiming he would often stand at the foot of her bed and fantasise about killing her by strangulation or stabbing.
The judge said his personality problems are worsened by his “chaotic” lifestyle.
Chapman pleaded guilty to arson being reckless to life endangered.