A COCAINE addict who was ‘off his face’ when he threatened to burn down his flat believing there were people in his loft has escaped prison by the ‘skin of his teeth’.

Jamie Buglass told officers he had turpentine and lighter ready to torch his Hartlepool flat after his mother called the police concerned about his safety.

His distressed mother believed he had taken drugs and called for help on the night of August 30 last year.

Emma Atkinson, prosecuting, said Buglass claimed he could hear voices coming from his loft and was walking around in a highly agitated state when police arrived at Tiverton Grove, Hartlepool.

An officer checked the loft in an attempt to calm the defendant down, she said. They allowed him to check for himself as he remained unconvinced in his 'psychotic' state.

Miss Atkinson said officers were eventually forced to use pepper spray on the defendant before arresting him as he continued to threatened to burn the building down.

Buglass, of Caxton House, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to threats to damage property and resisting a police officer.

He was also in breach of a 10 months jail sentence suspended for two years which was imposed in October 2017 for threatening to burn down his former girlfriend's mother's house.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the 33-year-old was training to be a wind turbine engineer, earning a scathing response from Judge Jonathan Carroll.

He said: "I wouldn't want him at the top of a wind turbine if he was off his face on drugs."

Stephen Constantine, mitigating, said Buglass was expecting to be offered work in Norway and urged the judge to suspend the sentence as he had cleaned himself during the six-month deferred sentence period.

Judge Carroll warned Buglass that he would not hesitate to activate the six month suspended sentence if he appeared before him again in the next 18 months after avoiding immediate custody by the 'skin of his teeth'.

He added: "You seem to have spent a large portion of your adult live with your brain being addled by the use of cocaine. If you want to do that to your brain that is your business but if you want to inflict it on other people then it becomes my business."

Buglass was also ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work and 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days.