Sheffield man jailed over transphobic arson attack

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Sheffield Crown Court
Image caption,
Lee Harrison was jailed at Sheffield Crown Court

A man has been jailed for setting fire to the home of a transgender woman after saying: "Anyone who is a tranny offends me".

Lee Harrison, 43, set light to the front door of her flat after trying to pour petrol through the letterbox.

The woman's flatmate, who was in at the time, said she "truly believed she was going to die".

Harrison, of Hallowmoor Road, Sheffield, was jailed for more than five years.

Prosecutor Robert Sandford said the attack on 15 August was born out of a "hostility based around the fact [the victim] was in the process of transitioning from the male to female gender".

He said Harrison would call the victim "Steve" in the street and previously told her, "Anyone who is a tranny offends me; it's a lifestyle choice."

He said that just days before the attack Harrison had shouted to the woman, "I'm going to burn you out."

On the night of the attack the woman was not at her first-floor flat, but her flatmate was.

He said Harrison had tried to pour petrol through the letterbox before setting it alight but a lock stopped the liquid getting through and a neighbour had put it out before it spread further than the door.

In a statement, the flatmate inside said: "I could not escape; I was trapped because the fire was coming from the front door and smoke was coming up the stairs.

"I truly believed I was about to die."

The transgender woman said: "I feel guilty that my best friend could have been killed because of someone trying to attack me."

Passing sentence, Judge Graham Reeds QC said Harrison's "warped" motives had put the lives of the flatmate and downstairs neighbours at risk.

"This was an offence aggravated by hostility towards the victim's transgender identity, which is a very significant aggravating feature," he said.

Harrison was jailed for five years and 10 months after he pleaded guilty to an offence of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

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