AN ARSONIST who endangered her neighbours and firefighters has been spared jail after she set fire to her living room.
Nina Knight, 45, started the fire on December 27, 2013, at her home in Arundel Close, Bognor Regis.
She pleaded guilty to a charge of arson with intent at a previous Chichester Crown Court hearing, saying she was depressed and trying to kill herself, but then changed her mind and called 999 after starting the fire.
Sentencing at the court today (April 11), judge Christopher Parker QC said: “You disabled the smoke alarm in what is properly described as a thoroughly reckless bid to end your own life, but at the same time putting at risk the lives and health of your neighbours, sparing not a thought for anybody else who might be injured or killed by your stupidity.”
He described her actions as ‘entirely selfish’, adding: “You had the sense at least to take steps to put the fire out before it became worse than it was and before you yourself were overpowered by smoke or flame and you called the police and because of that, perhaps, nobody in fact was seriously injured or killed.”
Knight has been in custody for more than three months since the incident happened, with the judge highlighting the risk she posed to the public.
“You clearly have had, quite possibly still do have, a grave problem with abuse of alcohol and my primary concern at the moment is whether or not you are going to do something as stupid as this again and kill somebody.
“The risk which you pose to the public needs to be addressed.”
Ultimately, he gave her a suspended sentence of a year in prison, which will be lifted after two years.
He also gave her a 12-month supervision requirement to tackle her alcohol problem but warned her if she committed any offence in the next two years she could be sent to prison.
He also gave her 150 hours of unpaid community work.
Speaking in Knight’s mitigation, Jason Halsey, defending, said he did not want to trivialise the seriousness of what she had done.
“I’m not going to belittle it and say it was a plea for help,” he said. “Quite clearly it could have had tragic consequences.”
He said his client was a ‘sad, isolated, lonely lady’, who had acted ‘thoughtlessly’.
He said she ‘drinks because she’s lonely and is lonely because she drinks’.
He said it was important to put in place a support network to help her and spare her prison.