South Scotland

Man jailed over Duns supermarket fire

Duns Co-op Image copyright Google

A man has been jailed for two years after he admitted starting a fire at a Co-op supermarket in the Borders.

Robert Stewart, 43, committed the offence in his home town of Duns in September last year.

Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard how police spotted 20ft (6m)-high flames leaping from the building and went to help evacuate the area.

Sheriff Donald Corke told Stewart he was also imposing a 12-month supervised release order to protect the public.

The court was told police officers had seen the fire and had gone to help take nearby residents to safety.

While there, they received a call from the control room telling them a man had contacted them from the police telephone outside the station, admitting he had started the fire and would wait for the officers to return.

'Form of escape'

Defence solicitor, Briony Cruden, said her client had expressed remorse for his actions and lack of consideration for the emergency services.

She said Stewart had a history of psychiatric disorders.

She added that he claimed to "hear voices" and had been "feeling harassed by neighbours for a number of weeks".

"He was at a loss of what to do at this point and thought custody would be a form of escape," she said.

Sheriff Corke told Stewart he did not accept his claim that he had been abused by staff at the store and added: "You cannot be surprised I consider custody to be inevitable".

The court heard that the operation of the Co-op had not been affected by the fire, but it had cost the company about £4,000 for the clean-up.

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