AN ARSONIST mum who phoned the fire brigade after setting fire to a house in her street was making a personal cry for help, a court was told.
Mother-of-three Kara Reed, 20, reported seeing smoke pouring from the letter box of the mid-terrace home in Hemsley Street, Hartlepool, late at night and then put the phone down without leaving her name after making one of two calls to the emergency service.
Fire crews found the locked house was unoccupied and there was some damage to a carpet inside the door that was caused by lit cardboard and an accelerant which had burned itself out.
Prosecutor Paul Lee told Teesside Crown Court that at 2am the following morning the police were told by the brigade that someone had tried to relight the fire through a window.
Police officers went to Reed’s home nearby and they noticed a strong smell of petrol.
Reed denied contacting the fire brigade and said four youths had started the fire and then run off down the road.
But police found one of the calls had been made from her mobile phone.
Her home, in Hemsley Street, was searched and they recovered some petrol and cardboard.
The second call was traced to her land-line and she admitted holding open the letter box and pushing the cardboard through it.
Although Reed denied starting the fire, she pleaded guilty to two offences of arson being reckless whether lives were endangered on December 21 and 22 last year.
Paul Cleasby, mitigating, said Reed had significant problems and the offences could have been a cry for help.
She had been taken off medication for mental problems after falling pregnant for the fourth time.
But she suffered a miscarriage when her partner was in custody.
Reed was given a two-year jail sentence that was suspended for two years.
Judge George Moorhouse told her: “It is submitted on your behalf that this was a cry for help, you were certainly facing problems.”
A teenage boy was given an 18-months youth rehabilitation order with intensive supervision and a three-month curfew, from 7pm to 7am, after admitting the same offences.
Ian Mullarkey, mitigating, said his client had no previous convictions and he had made admissions at his police interview.
The judge told them: “Let this case be a warning to you both.”