27th Sep, 2020

Man admits summer spate of wheelie-bin arson in Coventry

Editorial Correspondent 14th Sep, 2020 Updated: 14th Sep, 2020

A MIDDLE-aged man who had never been in trouble before inexplicably went on a spree of arson attacks in the Coundon and Radford areas of Coventry over a six-day period.

Although Paul Giles was targeting wheelie bins, three of the fires spread – causing extensive damage throughout a house, turning a BMW into a fireball, and setting light to a tree.

And a judge at Warwick Crown Court ordered that a psychiatric report should be carried out on Giles, together with an assessment of the risk he is likely to pose in the future.

Giles (40) of Donnithorne Avenue, Nuneaton, pleaded guilty to six charges of arson and one of arson being reckless whether life was endangered and property would be damaged.

The most serious charge related to an incident in the early hours of June 25 when a fire Giles had started in a bin outside a house in Lavender Avenue, Coundon, spread to the property.

There was extensive fire and smoke damage to the house, and it was said Giles had been reckless whether the life of owner Francis Slevin would be endangered – although in fact he was not at home at the time.

Two nights earlier, Giles had set light to a bin in Banks Road, Radford, which spread to Shelly Jones’s white BMW, turning it into a fireball.

The same night he started three other blazes in bins, one of which spread and set a tree on fire in the garden of a house in Browett Road, Coundon.

Then on June 30, Giles set light to two more bins, the court heard.

After Giles had entered his pleas, Recorder Charles Falk commented: “He has got no previous convictions. But this seems to be committed with a real fascination with fires and fire-starting. It plainly needs a psychiatric report.”

He said that as well as a psychiatric report, there should be a pre-sentence report ‘to deal with the risks of future fire-setting.’

“Plainly the custody threshold is well passed. The question is whether there is a need for any psychiatric intervention.”

Adjourning the case for the reports to be prepared, Giles was granted bail with conditions of residence and an eight-hour nightly curfew.

But Recorder Falk told him: “It is very concerning that a man of 40 who has not been in trouble at all suddenly embarks on a campaign of fire-setting, particularly when one of the fires was so very close to a property.

“The judge who deals with this plainly needs to know whether the public are in danger of you continuing to act in this way.”

And he warned Giles: “Adjourning for a report is no indication that the sentence will be anything other than an immediate custodial sentence of some length.”

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