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Jailed: Telford arsonist set fire to room and threatened housemate who tried to save him with knife

By Rob Smith | Telford | Crime | Published:

An arsonist who had to be dragged from a blazing bedroom by "heroic" police after threatening a housemate who tried to help him has been jailed for two years and eight months.

Neil Bott, 52, set a fire in his own ground floor bedroom and when a housemate entered the room, he held aloft a jagged knife and told him to leave or else he would kill him.

Bott resisted the efforts of housemates and passersby to rescue him, and it was only when police officers removed the window that they were able to drag him to safety.

Even then, Bott refused treatment and said he wanted to go back inside to get a cigarette.

He started the fire at the house in multiple occupation (HMO) in Bridgwood, Brookside, where he had been living for some time.

Shrewsbury Crown Court heard this week that Bott had a personality disorder and mental issues, having survived being abused as a youth and treatment for a brain tumour in 2000.

On September 27 last year housemates heard him saying he wanted to make a fire and to die, prosecutor William Dudley told the court.

Earlier that day he had attended hospital with suicidal thoughts and police took him home, said Mr Dudley.

Bott himself phoned police to report that he feared he had killed someone, but the officers found no evidence of an altercation.

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Later that evening housemates heard smoke alarms and went to switch them off, but saw smoke seeping from underneath the door of Bott's bedroom.

Difficult

On entering the room one man saw magazines, bedding and a chair on fire, with Bott lying on the bed.

When the man went to move things and stop the fire spreading, Bott stood up wielding a silver knife with a jagged edge and threatened him, the court heard.

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"The defendant's housemates tried their best to rescue the defendant and persuade him to leave the now ablaze bedroom," said Mr Dudley.

"He said he wanted to die."

Two people who lived nearby saw the smoke and tried to help, smashing the bedroom window.

The police were called and in an "act of heroism" were able to remove the rest of the window and drag Bott to safety, said Mr Dudley.

He told officers he had dropped a cigarette but would later plead guilty to arson, being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

At court yesterday his representative Ranjit Sandhu told the court that Bott had taken to binge drinking to deal with the pain from his brain tumour, and had been drinking and smoking on the day of the fire.

Mr Sandhu said that Bott had been diagnosed with a personality disorder and wanted to manage his emotional issues better.

Judge Peter Barrie considered the verdict for Bott, who is of no fixed abode.

The judge noted that Bott's room was "gutted" and that there was extensive smoke damage. Other residents were evacuated and had to stay elsewhere while the damage was fixed.

"It is difficult to understand why you did this," the judge said.

Rob Smith

By Rob Smith
Reporter

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star based at Ketley in Telford.

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