Man set fire to Colchester home twice in two days

Ipswich Crown Court Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Mark Beauchamp avoided prison at Ipswich Crown Court - Credit: Charlotte Bond

A man who set fire to his home in Colchester twice in two days using lighter fluid has avoided an immediate prison sentence. 

Mark Beauchamp, 31, was living in a house in Salary Close, Colchester, which was owned by his parents, when the two arson incidents happened, Ipswich Crown Court heard. 

On April 28, 2020, Beauchamp confided in a family friend that he had set fire to the house, Duncan O'Donnell, prosecuting, told the court. 

He said he had set fire to the bedroom and when a visit was made, the flames had gone out but the bedroom was smoke-filled. 

Firefighters were called and it was determined the blaze was started deliberately after lighter fluid was used on the mattress, the court heard. 

When asked why he did it, Beauchamp said a friend had told him to fake his own death, the court heard. 

Family members stayed with Beauchamp until around 8.30pm on April 28, but the following day, another blaze broke out. 

Most Read

This time, he barricaded himself in his bedroom and firefighters were forced to break down his bedroom door to get him out, the court heard. 

Lighter fluid had been used again to start the fire in two areas of the house, and extensive damage was caused.

The police and fire service were called and officers said Beauchamp smelt of alcohol and behaving erratically. 

Beauchamp, now of Bromham Road, Bedford, previously pleaded guilty to two counts of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered. 

Donal Lawler, mitigating, said there had been considerable concern over Beauchamp's mental health leading up to the incidents. 

He said Beauchamp had spent time at a mental health treatment facility following the incidents and had made a "significant improvement". 

Beauchamp said he had no recollection of the incidents and is now clear of drugs and alcohol, Mr Lawler said. 

Beauchamp's parents did not support prosecution, and said he was unwell at the time of the incidents, the court heard. 

Judge Emma Peters praised Beauchamp for seeking help and said he should be "applauded" for getting clear of drugs and alcohol. 

Beauchamp was handed 22 months' imprisonment, suspended for two years, and ordered to undertake a 12-month mental health treatment requirement. 

He was also ordered to complete 80 hours of unpaid work, and 40 rehabilitation activity requirement days. 

Beauchamp was also ordered to pay £500 in court costs.