Man jailed for arson after fire in his own flat in Leeds tower block

A troubled man who started a fire in his flat in a high rise tower block in Leeds has been jailed for more than three years.

By Mark Lavery
Monday, 30th September 2019, 6:00 pm
Updated Monday, 30th September 2019, 7:47 pm
Shane Sheard
Shane Sheard

Shane Sheard put lives at risk when set fire to curtains in the Leeds City Council flat at Shakespeare Grange in Burmantofts, Leeds Crown Court heard.

A member of the public alerted emergency services and fire crews arrived to find the blaze, which caused almost £2,000 damage, had already been extinguished.

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Sheard, 45, told police he had used buckets of water to douse the flames after using a lighter to set fire to curtains.

Sheard was in tears when he was arrested and told police he did it as a cry for help.

Bashir Ahmed, prosecuting, said a member of the public called the emergency services to report a fire on the third floor of the flats on Shakespeare Avenue at 4.30pm on June 14.

The fire was out and the defendant was gone when firefighters arrived.

Mr Ahmed said Sheard returned to the flat in an agitated and aggressive state and said he had done it as he could not cope.

When he was being arrested, he broke down crying and repeatedly said he could not believe what was happening.

In his interview, Sheard said he did not want or intend to danger anybody's lives and it was only a cry for help.

Sheard said he used three bucketfuls of water to extinguish the flames.

The court heard £1,774.83 worth of the damage was caused to the flat.

Sheard pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

He has 29 previous convictions for 49 offences, including violence, dishonesty and criminal damage.

The court heard there is evidence Sheard suffers from emotionally unstable personality disorder.

He attempted to overdose in December last year and has continuing mental health problems.

Nicholas Hammond, mitigating, said his client was not getting help for his mental health difficulties and co-operated fully with the authorities since his arrest.

Mr Hammond said: "This was a cry for help."

Jailing Sheard for three years and four months, Judge Simon Phillips QC told him: "The outcome could have been different.

"The other residents were seriously at risk while that fire was in process.

"This was a heavily reckless act and it was a deliberate act in that you have admitted setting fire to that curtain.