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Man jailed for starting fire which badly damaged his Consett home
A MAN who started a fire which badly damaged his home and could have put his next door neighbours at risk was today (Friday August 30) jailed for two years.
The blaze began as a result of a cigarette being discarded by Alan Thomas Patterson in a bedroom of the house in Consett, County Durham, in the early hours of February 21.
Durham Crown Court heard that it caused damage estimated in excess of £20,000 to the end terrace property in the Bridgehill area of the town.
The court was told Patterson had been drinking heavily that day, celebrating escaping receiving an immediate prison sentence in a separate case, for conspiracy to steal, at Teesside Crown Court two days earlier.
But on returning home late on February 20 he rowed with his wife, who, due to his demeanour, left the house with two children.
Chris Baker, prosecuting, said Patterson shouted abusively at her as she sought shelter with friends nearby.
Mr Baker described it as “a significant fire” destroying or badly damaging the roof and much of the upstairs of the house, in Chaytor Road, while it was feared it may spread to the neighbouring property.
He said that as recently as last month it was still considered to be in too dangerous condition for repairs to begin.
Patterson, 38, who has been in custody since his arrest nearby shortly after the fire was reported, admitted a charge of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.
The prosecution initially claimed he told his wife he would start a fire during the earlier row.
But Patterson’s ‘guilty’ plea was accepted by the Crown, on the day his trial was to have started, last month, on the basis he made no such threat.
Joe Hedworth, for Patterson, described him as, “a broken and devastated individual”, having lost his wife and family as well as his home due to his actions that night.
“I’m instructed to convey his sincere and unreserved apologies for all those affected by his foolish and reckless behaviour, particularly his wife and family, and the neighbouring family, for the distress caused.”
Mr Hedworth said it was Patterson who alerted the neighbours to evacuate their home, once he realised the extent of the fire.
Jailing him, Recorder Helen Proops said it was an irony that his actions after drinking excessively to celebrate escaping a prison sentence had landed Patterson behind bars ever since.
“You were responsible for a fire which has had a profound effect on your family and your neighbours.”
Recorder Proops also imposed a three-year restraining order preventing Patterson from contacting or attempting to contact or approach his wife.