Jailed: Jealous lover who torched Hartlepool girlfriend’s bed in suicide bid

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AN arsonist has been jailed after causing thousands of pounds in damage by setting fire to his girlfriend’s bed when he heard she was back with a former lover.

Shaun Bate, 23, caused £4,000 damage when he sat on his girlfriend Sarah Downnings’ bed and started the blaze with the intention of killing himself.

He thought that his girlfriend was cheating on him and he decided to kill himself in the home that they had shared.

Andrew Teate, mitigating

He told police he intended to die in the blaze but he changed his mind and he told his family what he had done.

Bate and Ms Downnings are now reconciled and she wept in the public gallery at Teesside Crown Court as he was sent down.

Bate, who was suffering from depression, said he set fire to the duvet after his sister told him that Ms Downnings was seeing her former partner again.

Prosecutor Sue Jacobs said that the fire caused more than £4,000 damage to the mid-terrace house in Eton Street, Hartlepool, but Ms Downnings declined to make a statement.

In interview Bate said he was depressed and self-harming and he had taken 12 codeine tablets.

He said he went to the house on January 24 deliberately to set fire to it over their relationship which started in mid-December.

Bate set fire to items in the main bedroom while sitting on the mattress.

He said his intention was to kill himself, and he knew that Ms Downnings was at her grandmother’s home.

Bate, of West View Road, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to reckless arson. He pleaded not guilty to arson with intent to endanger life and the Crown offered no evidence.

Andrew Teate, mitigating, said that a psychiatrist reported that there was a low risk of Bate offending again in a similar manner.

He added: “He thought that his girlfriend was cheating on him and he decided to kill himself in the home that they had shared.

“He set fire to the duvet and he accepts that he was stupid, and he left part way through.”

The judge said that it was worrying that Bate had several previous convictions for criminal damage which showed a worrying tendency to damage property.

Recorder Euan Duff told him: “It was quite obviously connected to the fact that you thought that your girlfriend had resumed a relationship with a previous partner and you were upset and annoyed about that.

“The danger here is this setting fire to this property a mid-terrace house,and there are obvious and severe potential consequences for the next door house and for fire officers.”

Bate was jailed for two years and the judge ordered that a copy of the psychiatric report should go to the prison authorities.