Leeds: Husband let out cats before he started fire

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A HUSBAND told police he torched his marital home as his wife wouldn’t come home from a pub karaoke night.

A court heard Michael Critchley, 56, let out his pet cats and made sure his neighbours were not home before setting fire to his home and then calling the fire brigade.

Critchley was arrested after firefighters put out the blaze which damaged the hall, kitchen and living room of the property on Cavendish Place, Pudsey.

He told police he wanted to teach his wife a lesson for not wanting to come home from a karaoke night at their local.

During interview he said: “I thought I’d have a little fire in the porch, the fire brigade would come and she would see from the window of the pub. I got the cats out and made sure no one was in.”

The part-time judge who gave Critchley a suspended prison sentence described the incident as “an entirely bizarre case”.

Mehran Nassiri, prosecuting, said the incident happened in the early hours of April 21 this year. Critchley admitted responsibility for the blaze as soon as firefighters arrived on the scene.

Mr Nassiri said: “He stated that he had walked home early, leaving his wife at the pub. Once home he had used petrol he already had in his house.

“When asked why, he replied because his wife is always moaning about the house.”

The prosecutor added: “The defendant explained nothing like this has happened before and that he had never got this angry before.

“He said it must have been one pint too many and that he had no intent to hurt anyone.”

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

Stephen Welford, mitigating, urged Recorder Toby Winn to take the “exceptional course” of not imposing an immediate prison sentence on his client.

He said Critchley had no previous convictions and the incident happened after he had been binge drinking and had an argument with his wife.

Recorder Winn said: “It was completely baffling how you came to commit such a dangerous offence.”

Critchley was given a nine-month sentence, suspended for 18 months, and was ordered to attend a course on the dangers of fire.

Recorder Winn added: “That will be a sobering experience for you.”

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