Woman admits starting fire at rented home

Woman who admitted house arson to be sentenced at Durham Crown Court in October.

Woman who admitted house arson to be sentenced at Durham Crown Court in October.

First published in News The Northern Echo: Static HTML image by , Chief Reporter (Durham)

A WOMAN has admitted responsibility for a fire which broke out in the living room of her home.

Firefighters were called to tackle the incident at a house in Peterlee, at about 7.45am on Wednesday, May 14.

Two appliances from the town’s fire station attended to put out the blaze in the terraced property, in Grange Close.

No-one was in the house at the time the firefighters reached the scene, but the blaze left the living room badly fire damaged and the rest of the house was smoke damaged.

The estimated bill for the damage to owner East Durham Homes was put at £2,500.

Thirty-year-old Sophie Marie Stephenson, who was present when the fire began, appeared at Durham Crown Court today (Monday, August 18).

She denied arson with intent to endanger the life of another, but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, said, following a full review by the Crown and the police overseeing the inquiry, the admission to the second charge was considered acceptable.

“In due course, ‘no evidence’ will be offered to count one,” added Mr Dryden.

Simon Walker, mitigating, asked for the preparation of a background report on Stephenson by the Probation Service and also for a psychiatric assessment to be carried out, ahead of sentence.

Agreeing, Judge Peter Kelson adjourned the case to enable both reports to be drafted ahead of the sentencing hearing.

He told Stephenson: “I don’t know what the sentence will be, but it will be on the basis that all options remain open, including custody.”

She was bailed to an address in Murray Street, Hartlepool, pending sentence on October 9.

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