Drug abuser with mental health history given hospital order for starting fire in bedroom of parents' home in Tow Law

The Northern Echo: Man who set fire to bedding at parents' home given hospital order at Durham Crown Court Man who set fire to bedding at parents' home given hospital order at Durham Crown Court

A MAN with a history of mental health problems and drug misuse was sentenced to an indefinite hospital order for setting fire to bedding at his parents’ home.

Paranoid schizophrenic Neil Sidebottom, who had taken crack cocaine and cannabis that day, set a duvet alight in a bedroom at the mid-terrace house in Tow Law, County Durham, on August 30 last year.

Durham Crown Court heard that Sidebottom had left the premises, in Park Terrace, by the time his parents returned to discover thick smoke emerging from the upstairs bedroom, shortly before 5pm.

Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said the fire brigade was summoned and the blaze was quickly dampened down.

A fire officer confirmed the two seats of the blaze were on the bed.

Sidebottom returned at 6.30pm and was arrested by police, who found him sitting with his head in his hands outside the house.

He told police that when his parents left to go to the Post Office he searched unsuccessfully for money to buy more drugs.

Mr Dryden said Sidebottom told officers of his difficulties, including diabetes, epilepsy and paranoid schizophrenia.

He speculated that due to the drugs he had taken earlier that day he may have “blacked out”, as he could not recall starting the fire.

Mr Dryden said Sidebottom has a long history of drug and dishonesty offences, including stealing from his family to buy drugs.

Chris Baker, mitigating, said reports by two consultant psychiatrists confirmed Sidebottom’s lengthy mental health history, which, combined with his chronic drug misuse, requires attention.

Sidebottom, 37, of Gladstone Street, Crook, admitted two counts of arson.

Having heard the agreed medical evidence, Recorder Robert Adams ordered him to be detained for treatment in a medium secure mental health hospital.

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