Jail over arson suicide bid

Preston Crown Court
Preston Crown Court
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A woman who started a fire in her home in an impulsive bid to take her own life sobbed as she was sent to prison by a court.

Lauren Pendleton stamped out the flames after setting the fire, but then lay on her settee to breathe in the smoke, Preston Crown Court heard.

Her partner arrived back at the home on Rose Avenue, Blackpool, tried to drag her out of the front room and called the emergency ser ices.

The 23-year-old woman had pleaded guilty to a charge of arson, being reckless whether life would be endangered. She was given a 15-month prison term.

The incident happened on January 12 this year.

Paul Cummings, prosecuting, said that when officers 
arrived at the home, the woman was being held by her partner. Her behaviour was very vocal. She seemed aggressive and intoxicated. A two foot 
area of carpet in the front room was damaged.

Officers then tried to 
restrain the defendant who had to be handcuffed.

It was noticed she had a cigarette lighter in her hand.

A crime scene investigator found damage to the carpet, a sofa cushion and part of a net curtain.

In police interview the woman said she and her partner had argued, and when he went out she decided to push the settee against the lounge door, to stop him coming in.

While he was out she began to have a smoke, and a piece of paper caught fire in the ash tray.

She spoke of then deciding to end it all, that she wanted to die, so put paper to what was in the ash tray.

The defendant also told 
police she had decided to stamp out the fire.

She thought the smoke would kill her so she lay on the settee, breathing it in.

She was coughing and having trouble breathing and her partner came back, realised what was happening and tried to drag her out of the room.

She had not intended to hurt anyone else.

Paul Robinson, defending, said: “The offence occurred as a result of a number of 
factors coming together that day. There was an underlying 
depressive illness, abuse of alcohol and other emotional factors came into play that day which resulted in her wanting to take her own life, thus 
endangering the lives of 
others in a very limited way.

All the agencies, all the doctors and all of her family who are at court know she needs support.

“This was a most unfortunate incident”.

Mr Robinson added that her remand in Styal prison had been her first taste of custody and a very distressing 

Judge Pamela Badley told the woman she had expressed remorse for what she did and realised she had made a terrible mistake.

She had now realised what she had in life, the people who loved her.

The judge added: “You are only 23. You’ve got all your life ahead of you.”

But she also told Pendleton: “There isn’t any alternative other than a custodial sentence”.