A MAN who set several fires in an empty house after getting into a row at a party has been jailed for four and a half years.

Stuart West had spent the evening drinking with friends before leaving the house in Hartlepool and starting the fires in a neighbouring property.

The 35-year-old pleaded guilty to a charge of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered when he appeared at Teesside Crown Court.

Paul Reid, prosecuting, told the court the defendant had a previous conviction for arson when he was jailed for 40 months.

The latest offence related to a fire at a house in Melrose Street, on March 4 this year, when he fell out with some of the people after he started falling over drunk.

The Northern Echo: Stuart WestStuart West

Dealing with the fire this year, Mr Reid said when West left he took the householders dog and a bag of medication before heading to a nearby house and starting the fires.

He added: "He was arrested at his mother's address and the stolen items were recovered, including the dog, and the defendant made no comment when he was arrested."

A few weeks later he was arrested when he was spotted dropping a knife, he was 'carrying for his own protection', on the floor as police approached him.

West, of Middlesbrough Road, South Bank, Middlesbrough, admitted possession a bladed article as well as the arson attack.

Ian Mullarkey, in mitigation, said his client knew the house was empty when he started the fire as that person was still at the party.

Recorder Nathan Adams sentenced West to four years and six months for setting the fire in more than one location.

He said: "You took a cocktail of alcohol and drugs at a party that you were invited to and in your state you decided to set a fire at the property one or two doors further down. You say you have no memory of what took place as a result of your state on that occasion."

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