Pensioner torched garden shed in neighbour dispute

A PENSIONER who put her neighbours’ homes in danger by torching a garden fence during a dispute has been detained under the Mental Health Act.

Carol Powers, 68, caused £1,500 worth of damage by starting the blaze which spread to a garden shed, burning it to the ground.

Leeds Crown Court heard the incident happened at 6.15am on Duke of York Street, Wakefield, on September 11 last year.

Ben Campbell, prosecuting, said a resident saw Powers arguing with another neighbour before saying: “I am going to burn all of your houses down.”

The neighbour later saw smoke coming from the back of a garden fence and Powers walking away from the area.

Flames took hold of fencing panels and spread to a shed. Children’s play equipment was also damaged. Police were called and Powers was arrested but denied any involvement. She claimed the blaze must have been started by a child or was an “insurance job.” She later pleaded guilty to arson. The court heard Powers was held in custody after being arrested but was transferred to hospital after being assessed by doctors.

Dr King Jonathan King told the court he considered Powers to pose a serious risk of causing harm to members of the public because of her mental condition.

Dr King said Powers was suffering from manic depression which caused her to act in a dangerous or irresponsible manner.

Judge Penelope Belcher made Powers the subject of an indefinite hospital order. She will only be released into the community when doctors consider it safe for her to be discharged. The judge told Powers: “Setting fires is dangerous and the courts are enormously concerned about how to deal with people who set fires.

“I am satisfied, based on the written and oral evidence, that you have pose a risk to the public.”