Reposted from the Mirror
I don’t condone arson, but who can blame this poor bugger.
John Marshall, 57, said he could no longer afford the rent on the three-bedroom terrace after his benefit was cut
A man has been jailed for two years after he set fire to his own home while faced with eviction because of the Tory-led Government’s hated Bedroom Tax.
Dad John Marshall, 57, said he could no longer afford the rent on the three-bedroom terrace after his benefit was cut.
He had lived in the house for 21 years and failed to make up the deficit despite cutting back on food and heating.
Marshall started the blaze at 3am and shouted a warning to neighbours through a letter-box before sitting outside in a deckchair to watch the blaze.
When someone asked if he had called fire-fighters he replied: “No, let it burn. I am not paying no Bedroom Tax. Selwood (the housing association owners) are to blame for this”.
The court heard Selwood Housing Association estimated the fire caused £100,000 of damage to Marshall’s home which will have to be completely rebuilt. Smoke also damaged to three neighbouring properties.
Defence lawyer Marcus Davey said Marshall had done a lot of work on the house in Whitley, Wilts, and was not thinking properly when he started three separate fires while “out of his head” on drink.
Mr Davey told the court: “It is clear after starting the fire it was he who had alerted the neighbours.
“If I can colloquially refer to it as the Bedroom Tax, he was told he was going to have to leave this property.
“The rent went up and he was £35 a week short. He had lived in the property for 21 years, his daughter had grown up there.
“Your Honour will see in the report all his memories of his second wife, in the psychiatric report ‘I thought they were taking my memories’.
“This was a man who didn’t have much. He describes going without food or heating in order to try and make up the £35 a week. Despite his efforts he could not make good.”
Marshall admitted a charge of arson while being reckless as to whether life was endangered in January this year.
Passing sentence at Swindon crown court recorder Ian Lawrie QC told Marshall: “I have read the reports with interest, not without some sense of sympathy.
“I was very struck about what this house meant to you in terms of its memories and how you felt on this day when you set light to three different places in this property.
“Yes I understand and have some sympathy but you deliberately started three seats of fire for in one view through your selfish actions.
“The nature of fire once it is set, it is hard to control until the fire brigade arrives.
“You have destroyed the home you clearly loved so much but you have also done damage to the homes of neighbours.”