Brave neighbour who rescued arsonist and his gran from house fire is commended by Leeds Crown Court judge

A brave neighbour who twice went into a burning house to rescue two people  - including the man who started the fire -  has been commended by a Leeds Crown Court judge.

Saturday, 29th May 2021, 4:45 pm
Updated Saturday, 29th May 2021, 8:14 pm

Judge Robin Mairs said the man acted with "conspicuous valour" after Craig North started a fire to the bedroom he was staying in at his grandmother's house in South Elmsall near Pontefract.

The court heard North, 34, barricaded himself in the bedroom.

The neighbour went in the house and rescued North's grandmother before going back in to carry North out during the incident on March 14

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Craig North

Matthew Harding, prosecuting, said North had been living with his grandmother in the three bed semi-detached house for around three years.

The court heard North had self harmed in the early hours of March 14.

Mr Harding said at around 4pm the following day, his grandmother could smell smoke coming from his bedroom.

She could hear a fire crackling behind the door and tried to get in the room, but he had barricaded the door shut.

North came out of the room and he was on the stairs behind his grandmother when a neighbour opened the front door.

After the neighbour took the grandmother out of the house, North closed and locked the door.

The neighbour got a brick to break a window and reached inside to turn the key and open the door.

Mr Harding said that the neighbour found North in the front room and carried him out of the house to safety.

The fire gutted North's bedroom and blew out the window.

North, of Sunnyvale Mount, South Elmsall, admitted arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

Satpal Roth-Sharma, mitigating, said North had a troubled childhood and was in care from the age of six.

Mrs Roth-Sharma, said: "During his teens he turned to illicit substances and that clearly has had an effect on his physical and mental state.

"He doesn't suffer from a mental illness so to speak but he is suffering from psychological distress.

"He shows severe upset and remorse and is sorry for what happened.

"He feels completely at a loss as to why he put them in danger. He simply sought to damage himself."

The court heard North is a long-term cannabis user.

Jailing North for two years and two months, Judge Robin Mairs praised the neighbour's actions:.

Judge Mairs said: "A neighbour, with conspicuous courage, opened the front door.

"He carried the grandmother out. With no regard for his safety, he returned to the premises and smashed his way through the locked front door to rescue you."

Judge Mairs added: "It was conspicuous valour. He is to be commended in the highest terms."