Suicidal Leeds woman put lives at risk in fire

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A WOMAN who torched her home and had to be dragged by firefighters from the blazing building after refusing to leave has been jailed.

Michaela Siddell, 31, also endangered the life of her sister and partner who were trapped in the property above after she set her flat on School Street, Castleford, alight.

Leeds Crown Court heard Siddell had drunk nine litres of cider before setting fire to the sofa of her ground floor flat on January 30 this year

A day earlier she had been arrested after sending her sister a text message saying she was going to set fire to the curtains of her home.

The offence happened after she was released by police. Craig Hassall, prosecuting, said Siddell had been crying and hysterical when her sister saw her shortly before the incident.

Her sister thought she had gone to bed but moments later went to her flat and said she had started a fire and wanted to die.

The exit to the flat was blocked by thick smoke and her sister had to shout from a window for help.

Firefighters led Siddell’s sister and boyfriend to safety but she refused to leave and had to be forcibly removed from the building. A woman and a baby living next door also had to flee their home.

After her arrested, Siddell told police she had wanted to end her life but didn’t know two other people were upstairs.

The blaze caused £4,000 worth of damage. Siddell pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life would be endangered.

Michael Smith, mitigating, said Siddell had a history of physical and mental health problems.

Shortly before the offence she had undergone major surgery which had led to her losing her job and she had turned to alcohol. She had also been in a relationship which had come to an end.

Jailing her two years and eight months, judge Penelope Belcher said: “An aggravating feature is that this was not simply spontaneous.

“There was an element of building up to it. You must have known there were people at risk.”

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