1st Jul, 2022

Arsonist burned hands as he torched and smashed up his and partner's rented Coventry home

Editorial Correspondent 28th Nov, 2019 Updated: 28th Nov, 2019

A YOUNG man who burned his hands as he escaped from his terraced Coventry home after smashing it up and starting a fire in the hallway has escaped being jailed.

Kristaps Karnats had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to a charge of arson at the house in Hermes Crescent, Wood End, being reckless whether lives would be endangered.

But after spending four months in custody on remand, Karnats (23) who was living at the address at the time, was given a two-year prison sentence suspended for two years.

Prosecutor Amy Jackson said that at around 10.20 at night on August 6 there was a report of a fire at a three-bedroom terraced house in Hermes Crescent.

And as well as tackling the blaze, fire officers treated Karnats for burns to his hands.

Inside the house the hall and stairs had been heavily damaged by the fire, but the rest property had also been damaged – not by the fire, but by Karnats ripping cabinets off the walls, overturning furniture and throwing paint around.

Fortunately, the Fire Brigade had arrived within five minutes, and had been able to fight the fire before it spread to the neighbouring house, which was occupied by an elderly person.

When he was arrested, Karnats admitted he had started the fire by setting light to clothing and textiles in an attempt to harm himself.

He said he had drunk a bottle of whisky following an argument with his partner, who had walked out, and he had then smashed the place up before starting the fire.

But he had then burned his hands when he had to move the burning clothes to get out of the house as the fire took hold.

Miss Jackson added that the owner of the house, which was rented to Karnats’ partner and another young woman, although he also lived there, said it had previously been her family’s home, which made what had happened more upsetting.

Nicola Purches, defending, said: “It was an acute stress reaction to the loss of his partner, who had been his first and only girlfriend.

“His ex-partner did e-mail my office. There does not appear to be any animosity there, but clearly the relationship is over.”

She said it was only Karnats and his partner who had been living there at the time, and reports on Karnats referred to him being at low risk of re-offending.

Miss Purches said Karnats, who had been in custody since his arrest, was a hard-worker who had no previous convictions, and ‘has shown absolute remorse’ for what he did.

Sentencing Karnats, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano told him: “On the 6th of August you started a fire in the rented terraced house you were sharing with your girlfriend.

“Fortunately the fire service were called very quickly and were able to put out the fire which had spread in the hall and on the stairs.

“You had started it deliberately by piling clothes and setting light to them. It is very fortunate it didn’t spread any further. It was clearly very dangerous, as you know because you burned yourself quite significantly as you were trying to get out.

“If you start a fire, you can’t stop it. You are not in a position to control it, and fires get out of control very, very quickly indeed.

“If a fire is started in a terraced house it can easily spread to the house next door, where we know a vulnerable person lived.

“But there is nothing in the reports to suggest you are a young man who would normally behave in this way. You were very badly affected by the break-down of your relationship, and this was an acute reaction to that.

“You have spent the equivalent of an eight-month sentence in prison. Because you have spent that time in prison, I am going to suspend the sentence.”

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