Teenager jailed for random arson attack

A TEENAGER who set fire to a house as a woman slept inside has been put behind bars for three years.

Alexander Wilson targeted the property at Lismore Terrace, Washington, at random, then used nail varnish remover to set fire to the plastic back door in the early hours of the morning.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that the 18-year-old, of Rayleigh Road, Gateshead, sparked the blaze because he “wanted to know what would happen”.

Wilson was still at the scene watching the flames when the fire service arrived and extinguished the blaze, which caused £27,000 damage.

He was carrying a knife in his pocket, which he said he carried for protection, when he was arrested.

The court heard the householder escaped from her smoke-filled home when she was woken by a neighbour.

By then, her back door and kitchen were ruined.

She suffers “flashbacks, sleepless nights and considerable distress” as a result of the terrifying ordeal.

The court heard Wilson, who had bought nail varnish remover in small amounts so as not to raise suspicion before transferring it into milk cartons to use as an accelerant, had tried to set fire to a randomly selected car using the same method just weeks before the arson attack at the house on March 6 last year.

At Newcastle Crown Court yesterday, Judge James Goss QC sentenced him to three years in a young offenders’ institution.

The judge told him: “These offences were a series of dangerous acts and in relation to the house fire, caused considerable fear and damage and could easily have resulted in loss of life.

“Using nail varnish remover to set fire to the door, you then pushed two wheelie bins towards the door when it was burning.

“You say you selected that house because it had a plastic door and you wanted to know what would happen if you set fire to it.

“The occupant was asleep upstairs at the front of the house.

“Fortunately, she managed to make her way downstairs and leave her house by the front door.

“Naturally, in the circumstances, she feared for her life, which was unquestionably in danger.”

Wilson had pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life would be endangered, having an article with a blade and attempted arson.

The autism sufferer is a carer for his disabled mother.

The court heard his condition means his ability to think of the consequences of his actions and the risk to others is reduced.

Glen Gatland, defending, said Wilson comes from a stable family background.

Mr Gatland said: “Whatever he is saying or doing is against the background of his autism.”