Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Drunk Sheffield students detained for TV-in-oven prank

Two drunk students who put a TV in the oven and set fire to a chair in their Sheffield university halls have received custodial sentences.

When toxic fumes started billowing from the oven the pair panicked and left the building as flatmates slept nearby, Sheffield Crown Court was told.

Daniel Gyi, 21, was jailed and Joshua Hart, 20, sent to a young offenders institution - both for two years.

They pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage, recklessly endangering life.

The biomedical sciences students had finished their first year exams at the University of Sheffield two weeks previously.

'Panicked and left'

Prosecutor Elisabeth Martin told the court they had spent the afternoon of 26 June last year drinking in the pub before returning to their four-storey block of flats.

They threw part of a TV off the roof before setting fire to a chair, which burned itself out.

The rest of the TV they had then put in the electric oven at around 0330 BST, she said.

They covered heat detectors and smoke alarms with plastic bags, but when thick smoke started pouring from the oven they panicked and left the building, the court heard.

Seven other people - two men and five women - were sleeping in the flat at the time.

The two men, Ben Rigby and Jake Nolton, were eventually woken by heat alarms going off and they warned the others.

The court heard Hart and Gyi came back shortly after and alerted the security officer. Two fire engines were called to the flats.

Ms Martin said Gyi had told police: "We just fancied burning it for no reason."

Their defence counsel, Peter McCartney, said the incident had been "a huge error in judgement".

'Appalling behaviour'

He added: "It was extremely reckless. It was not, however, malicious.

"It understates it rather to call it a stupid, foolish drunken prank but that, in truth, is what it was as there was no malice."

Judge Peter Kelson QC said they had shown no consideration for the safety of others in the flats when they disappeared after the smoke had started billowing from the oven.

He added that the pair were "plainly very decent young men when sober", but their behaviour that night had been "appalling".

The judge told them: "You had everything going for you. You were on your way and studying for your degrees.

"You had done your exams and got hopelessly, pathetically drunk and then you set about appalling behaviour."

Pc Rachael Burgin, from South Yorkshire Police, said she agreed with the judge's sentence.

She added: "The incident could have resulted in tragic consequences had it remained undetected.

"We have to pay credit to Jake and Ben for intervening."

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