Hartlepool man set fire to flat 'because the demons were coming to get us'
A 23-year-old man set fire to his upstairs flat before locking the door and walking calmly away.
Jordan Hamilton was challenged by a passing cyclist who called the fire brigade after seeing a red glow from the flat above a shop in Stockton Road, Hartlepool.
The cyclist was praised by a judge who said his prompt action meant the fire brigade was able to control the fire before it spread.
Hamilton was jailed for two years and eight months.
Prosecutor Jenny Haigh told Teesside Crown Court Hamilton had moved into the flat a few months earlier but had been a problem tenant.
"The flat was above a shop," said Ms Haigh.
"There was complaints about noise, and Hamilton would also turn off the electricity supply to the shop.
"The landlord said this caused him to lose a tenant of the shop, so he decide he would have to evict Hamilton.
"In the early hours of the morning of July 14, Hamilton texted his mother to say he was going to harm himself.
"She did her best to calm him down."
Ms Haigh said the cyclist was returning from work when he saw Hamilton leave the flat, locking the door behind him.
"The cyclist dialled 999," Ms Haigh added.
"Hamilton challenged him as he left, saying he hoped he wasn't on the phone to the police.
"The fire brigade was quickly on the scene.
"Firefighters found the seat of the blaze to be in a first floor bedroom, it appears items had been piled on the bed and set alight.
"They were able to contain the fire in that room."
"Hamilton was found and arrested a short time later.
"He told officers he had set fire to the flat 'because the demons were coming to get us'.
"While in custody, he spat in the face of a detention officer."
Hamilton, of Church Street, Hartlepool, admitted arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered and assault, both on July 14.
He has nine previous convictions including offences of criminal damage.
Laurie Scott, defending, said in mitigation: "Mr Hamilton does have a significant personality order.
"He has been examined by psychiatric doctors who have concluded he doesn't need hospital treatment, but does need further treatment in the community.
"This offence was committed after a drinking session.
"Mr Hamilton had kept out of trouble for seven years and his mother would like him to know she wants to have him back at home when he is eventually released from prison."
Judge Howard Crowson jailed Hamilton for two years and eight months.
The judge told him: "The risk to the public in setting fires to buildings is what concerns me.
"There was no injury in this case and the damage was contained to one room.
"That is thanks to the cyclist who should be commended for his prompt action in calling the fire brigade.
"This is your first time in custody and I appreciate being in prison is harder for someone with your mental health problems.
"You should continue to receive some treatment while serving your sentence and I hope when you are released you will receive more help."