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Arsonist wrote 'welcome to hell's kitchen' on wall of his burning flat

PUBLISHED: 07:42 03 May 2019 | UPDATED: 08:49 03 May 2019

Matthew Eaves, who set fire to his own flat in Eye, has been jailed for arson  Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Matthew Eaves, who set fire to his own flat in Eye, has been jailed for arson Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Suffolk Constabulary

An arsonist who wrote "welcome to hell's kitchen" on the wall of his burning flat has been locked up.

Matthew Eaves started four fires in his rubbish strewn home after leaving a mental health unit.

Following his arrest, Eaves was kept in custody and given a course of antipsychotic medication until appearing at Ipswich Crown Court for sentencing on Thursday.

The 29-year-old became known as a “troublesome” neighbour after moving into Hutton Court, in Eye, a year before the fire.

Last May, he was admitted to a mental health centre, in Cheshire, after setting light to a skip outside the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.

After receiving an absolute discharge for starting the skip fire on August 5, he returned to Eye, where a downstairs neighbour was woken by a smoke alarm at about 1am a week later.

Matthew Sorel-Cameron, prosecuting, said the neighbour found Eaves standing outside in a t-shirt, boxer shorts and boots, watching an orange glow radiating from the first floor flat.

Firefighters arrived to find the property in disarray, said Mr Sorel-Cameron, who described “rubbish everywhere”.

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“The fires could have escalated to the point of life endangerment within minutes,” he added.

A small fire – still alight near the front door when emergency services arrived – would have taken 15-20 minutes to burn through the chipboard floor.

Another ebbing fire was found in the living room, while two separate fires had already burned out elsewhere in the flat, where writing on a wall read 'welcome to hell's kitchen on earth'.

Following a psychiatric report, Eaves admitted arson, being reckless as to whether life was endangered, on December 20.

Philip Farr, mitigating, said a history of mental health problems, including a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, had not been aided by past drug misuse.

He said the offence was “partly of his own cause and partly due to his circumstances, adding: “Although drugs contributed to his offending in the past, on this occasion, he was not using them.”

Judge Rupert Overbury said Eaves may not have intended anyone harm, and could obviously be described as unwell, but should have been able to control himself.

“You knew what you were doing was wrong,” he added.

Eaves will be due for supervised release midway through his 28-month sentence eight of which he has served on remand.

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