Boyfriend started fire after argument

Shaun Rafferty
Shaun Rafferty
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A MAN who set fire to his Blackpool flat was angry following a row with his girlfriend, a court was told.

Preston Crown Court heard the landlord of the ground floor property on Bolton Street, South Shore, lost around £21,000 due to damage and loss of rent because of the actions of Shaun Rafferty.

Rafferty, 30, was appearing for sentencing after pleading guilty to a charge of arson, being reckless whether life would be endangered, in connection with the incident in May last year.

William Donnelly, prosecuting, said the fire service was called to Rafferty’s home on May 30.

A neighbour had spotted smoke coming from the flat and the defendant asked them to call the emergency services.

Rafferty told a firefighter he had fallen asleep in a chair while smoking a cigarette.

He said he woke to find flames around him and thought the cigarette may have fallen on to a mattress.

He was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital, but went on to discharge himself and went home.

Mr Donnelly told the court: “He immediately went back to Bolton Street. The fire service had by then put the fire out.

“Upon returning to the scene he gave an account different to his first one. He said he had fallen asleep on the mattress while smoking a cigarette and then woke to discover the fire.

“He assumed the fire must have started when the cigarette accidentally fell on to the mattress. It quickly became apparent to the fire service the cause was suspicious.”

The mattress was the origin of the fire. A pile of women’s clothes left at the foot of the mattress had been severely damaged.

Mr Donnelly added: “It was clear the fire had not started accidentally, as a result of a discarded cigarette. Tests had shown it would take a long time if that had been the case. A naked flame had been used on the mattress or the women’s clothing.”

In police interview, Rafferty told officers he had been drinking all day and had an argument with his girlfriend who had left the flat. He maintained he had fallen asleep while having a smoke and woke up to see flames at the bottom of the bed.

Michael Hayton, defending, said his client had no such similar type of offending on his record.

He added: “The defendant was seen to be in drink around the time the authorities attended. It would have had an impact on his thinking process when he acted as he did.”

Judge Heather Lloyd gave Rafferty a sentence of 38 months prison.

She told him “You set fire to the bed where a pile of your partner’s clothing was. You were apparently drunk. You were probably angry following a row with your partner.”