In a dramatic suicide attempt, a Coventry man set fire to his home, causing a blaze tackled by 17 firefighters who had to risk their own lives to rescue him.
The fire had swept through the ground floor of Tony Taylor’s semi-detached home and had also put the lives of his next-door neighbours at risk, Warwick Crown Court has heard.
Taylor (59) of Pine Tree Avenue, Tile Hill, was jailed for two years and four months after pleading guilty to arson being reckless whether lives were endangered.
The court heard the charge followed the blaze at the house where he had lived with his mother until she had been taken into a nursing home, during the afternoon of November 22 last year.
Taylor, who was suffering from depression, had been drinking heavily, spread paper and an accelerant around before using a lighter to start the fire.
The fire rapidly spread through the downstairs rooms, with extensive smoke damage also being caused upstairs.
Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus to drag an unconscious Taylor out.
He had suffered a cardiac arrest, and had to be given oxygen and CPR to re-start his heart before paramedics arrived on the scene and took him to hospital.
The fire had also potentially put the lives of a woman and her grandchildren, who were at in the neighbouring house.
When he was later questioned, Taylor, who was of previous good character, said he had set the fire with the intention of taking his own life.
But he added he had believed no-one would be at home next-door, although he accepted he had not checked.
Sentencing Taylor after reading psychiatric and pre-sentence reports on him, Judge Andrew Lockhart QC told him: “You were in the grip of a depressive episode by reason of your mother being taken into a nursing home.
“Her sister had taken over her affairs, and you were depressed and in money trouble. Your situation had spiraled out of control.
“You were to be evicted, and matters had got on top of you. You decided you would take your own life.
“You took drink in a large amount, and you spread an accelerant around the house in order to make sure the house would be consumed by fire.
“You knew the fire in your house would present severe risks to next-door. You assumed they would be out, but you never made any check at all.
“There was serious damage to the houses, and you caused real danger to the neighbouring family, the grandmother and the children, and there was also a danger to the firefighters.
“I am driven to conclude that, in my public duty, I must pass an immediate custodial sentence.”