Leamington man believed gangsters were trying to kill him so he started a fire in his flat

The scales of justice
The scales of justice

A man who believed gangsters were out to kill him used his bed and a sofa bed to barricade himself in his bedsit before setting fire to them and jumping out of the window.

But as Sean Wright escaped the fire, breaking his foot as he landed, two of his neighbours suffered from smoke inhalation as they tried to get into his room to rescue him.

Wright, 47, of Lillington Road, Leamington, was jailed for three years and ten months after pleading guilty at Warwick Crown Court to arson being reckless whether lives were endangered.

Lee Marklew, defending, said that periodically Wright’s addictions had led him to become psychotic, and he started the fire while suffering from mental health problems, but was now ‘sober and lucid.’

He pointed out that just before jumping from the window and breaking his foot, Wright had shouted ‘fire’ to the other residents because he had not wanted anyone else to be hurt.

Jailing Wright, Recorder Kevin Hegarty QC told him: “You were drinking to excess and using various substances, including something called Black Mamba, and your mental health was deteriorating.

“You barricaded the door of your room, with yourself inside. You then set fire to the bed and sofa bed you had assembled at the door.

“The smoke from that fire set off the alarm within the building. People started their escape, and you started to call for help, which caused two people to try to rescue you.

“They put themselves at risk, and they suffered from smoke inhalation in their efforts to save you.

“I accept you fully believed at the time there were people, gangsters, coming to kill you.

“This is not an offence of arson with intent to endanger life, but it is gravely serious because a large number of people were put at risk by your activities.

“I bear in mind what is set out in the reports on you. I have to consider whether you are dangerous, and I am satisfied you pose a significant risk of causing serious harm by the commission of further offences.

“Setting fire to a building occupied by a significant number of people is a very serious matter indeed.”