Glasgow & West Scotland

Fire starter who shouted 'I'm going to hell' is jailed

A man who set fire to his flat and then threatened emergency services while shouting "I'm going to hell" has been jailed for three and a half years.

Aaron Black, 28, admitted setting fire to 70 Birkshaw Brae, Wishaw, North Lanarkshire, on 1 January.

He also admitted lashing out at fire crews with a screwdriver and attempting to strike police officers.

At the High Court in Glasgow, Black was also ordered to be supervised for three years after his release.

Public danger

Judge Lady Scott told him: 'I'm satisfied that you presented a danger to yourself and the public.

"You not only placed the residents of your block of flats at risk, you tried to attack firefighters who arrived to put the fire out.

"At the time you were highly intoxicated on a mixture of Valium and alcohol."

The court heard that Black had 10 previous convictions, including a breach of the peace involving emergency workers.

Advocate depute Shirley McKenna, prosecuting, said: "When the fire brigade arrived there was thick smoke in the lobby and a number of the occupants were, by this time, outside the building in a distressed state.

"Fire officers instructed the accused to leave the burning flat. He ran at them armed with a weapon and refused to leave.

"Due to his aggressive behaviour towards the fire crew the officers retreated and called for urgent police assistance."

'It's time to die'

The court heard that Black shouted at the firefighters: "We're all burning. I'm going to hell and you are coming with me."

Black was wearing gloves with a piece of wire attached and the screwdriver was secured by the wire.

Police arrived and eventually detained Black after he had shouted: "It's time to die."

The court heard that residents in the block of flats, including young children, had to be evacuated due to the thick smoke from the fire.

Ms McKenna added: "The accused put his own life, the fire crew's lives, the residents in the buildings lives and the attending police officers' lives at risk."

Judge Lady Scott was shown CCTV footage of residents escaping the fire and Black attacking the fire crew and police officers.

Defence counsel Tony Graham said his client regretted his actions and had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

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