Arsonist who caused residents of this Hartlepool street to be evacuated in the early hours locked up

An arsonist who risked neighbours’ lives by starting a fire in a house in the early hours of the morning has been jailed for four years.

Monday, 14th October 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Monday, 14th October 2019, 1:03 pm

Residents in Whitburn Street, off York Road in Hartlepool, had to be evacuated after Christopher Raw, 36, set light to a derelict terraced house at around 1am on March 26.

Luckily, a neighbour spotted movement in the house and called the police.

Stephen Duffied, prosecuting at Teesside Crown Court, said: “Having called the police he came out later and saw a flickering light coming from the upstairs front bedroom window.

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The derelict house in Whitburn Street after the fire started by Christopher Raw.
The derelict house in Whitburn Street after the fire started by Christopher Raw.

“In fact, that was a fire. The police arrived promptly and saw Mr Raw who was holding two carrier bags coming out of the premises.”

The court heard Raw, who had a previous conviction for arson from 2004, had taken a cocktail of drugs and had gone to the house looking for people to get more drugs.

The property’s agent put the expected cost of the damage caused as thousands of pounds.

Raw told police and the judge that he tried to put the fire out by stamping on it.

Christopher Raw.

Judge Peter Armstrong told him: “That’s why the offence is so serious because of the risk of it spreading.

“And when you can’t put it out yourself it’s an indicator of how big the risk is.”

Raw, of Wynyard Road, Hartlepool, admitted arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

He was also dealt with for possession of a kitchen knife in the street on October 2 of last year and breaching a suspended sentence from January for carrying a blade.

Andrew Teate, mitigating, said Raw had expressed remorse in a letter for his actions adding: “It’s not the first time but he says it will be the last.”

Police welcomed the sentence. DC Anthony Wallace, who led the investigation, said: “The sentence reflects that Raw started a fire in the early hours of the morning which led to people in surrounding properties needing to be evacuated.

“A quick response from emergency services meant our officers arrested Raw at the scene and the fire was contained but it’s easy to see how the situation could have been very different.”