Shocking pictures show aftermath of South Shields flat blaze started by man after hearing 'demonic voices'

These photos show the damage a man caused to a South Shields home with four separate blazes after he was told to by “demonic voices.”

Monday, 10th February 2020, 5:19 pm
Updated Monday, 10th February 2020, 6:59 pm

Anthony Bourke has been jailed for 32 months after using petrol to set light to furniture and other property in his flat on Copley Avenue in Whiteleas before he drove away.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how police and fire crews arrived on the scene on Friday, September 6, to see the intense fire had caused severe damage.

Barry Robson, prosecuting, said a neighbour was woken by a "loud bang" and looked out of his window to see the defendant leave the flat, get in his car and drive off.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

A photo issued by Northumbria Police of the flat in the aftermath of the blazes.

The court heard within the space of 19 minutes, the 35-year-old arrived at his home, started the fires and fled, with investigators finding a half-empty petrol can in the flat.

Mr Robson said inquiries found Bourke's mother had contacted police on Monday, September 2, and "said he had threatened to set fire to his flat."

He told the court how Bourke was arrested at his partner's address where he was found "hiding in a cupboard in the living room."

In an interview Bourke said he had "heard demonic voice in his head, which told him to start the fires" and made no comment when asked about his mother contacting the police.

Anthony Bourke has been jailed for 36 months after admitting he had started fires in his South Shields flat.

Glenn Gatland, defending, explained Bourke had made progress with his drug issues while in custody and said: "It is obvious that he has had a long history of psychotic illness.

"He says he did try to contact the police, he did try to get mental health intervention.”

He asked for Bourke's sentence to be kept as short as a long time in custody "would crush him".

Bourke, of Copley Avenue, pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

This photo by Northumbria Police shows the amount of damage caused to the Whiteleas flat in the fires started by Anthony Bourke.

Judge Amanda Rippon said: "Your flat was a flat and therefore you endangered the lives of more than one person.

"You conceded you were intoxicated through drugs at the time you committed the offences.”

She added she appreciated he had mental health problems and had had a difficult early life.