Serial arsonist jailed for four years

AN ARSONIST is today behind bars after torching two homes in one night and then trying to set fire to himself.

Lizzie Parry

AN ARSONIST is today behind bars after torching two homes in one night and then trying to set fire to himself.

Mark Barton, who a judge described as a dangerous individual, first set fire to the home of the grandmother of his children before targeting the home of a deaf man who had to flee for his life.

The victim was only alerted to the fire when he smelt burning as he slept in front of the TV and managed to escape through the kitchen window as the blaze destroyed the property.

Barton, 32, who is currently already serving a prison sentence in Manchester for another offence was yesterday jailed for four years after pleading guilty to arson with intent to endanger life.

At Barton's sentencing at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday, Judge Peter Thompson said he considered him a dangerous individual.

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He said: “This case is far too serious for a non-custodial sentence, he nearly killed someone, his second victim was profoundly deaf, had he not smelt the fire he would be dead. I think he is dangerous.”

The court heard that Barton's first target on March 26 2007 was the address of his ex-girlfriend's mother's house - the grandmother to his children.

The 58-year-old woman who lived in Swansea Avenue was woken at around 2am by a clicking sound coming from downstairs.

When she went downstairs to investigate she saw an orange glow behind the curtains at her front door, after leaving the house through the back door she found her front door on fire. There were five or six milk bottles smelling of petrol nearby.

Barton later went on to Whitland Close in Ipswich where he set fire to a flat owned by Sanctuary Housing which provides accommodation for vulnerable people.

The occupant was a 32-year-old man. The court heard he was profoundly deaf and was asleep in front of the television without his hearing aid in, when he woke to the smell of burning. The court heard the flames were roaring and the fire completely destroyed the property.

Soon after, Barton was detained by police officers on the Orwell Bridge after trying to set light to himself on the carriageway.

Mark Kimsey, defending said there were a number of factors which had been playing on Barton's mind, including details of his former abuse and said his client had a long history of mental problems.

Sentencing Judge Thompson said: “Both were extremely dangerous the second was exceptionally serious because you set fire to the house of a man who is profoundly deaf.

“Fortunately for you he was not harmed. You will be imprisoned for public protection, the alternatives are not appropriate. These people were put in dreadful fear, a major factor I considered when assessing dangerousness.”

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