A MOTHER who was jailed for setting her house on fire in a suicide attempt was shown mercy by a court yesterday when she was freed to help her vulnerable teenage daughter.

Paula Dunn, 37, of Pleasant View, Bridgehill, Durham, was jailed for three years in July, after admitting arson and being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

London's Criminal Appeal Court freed her from her prison sentence and made her the subject of a two-year community rehabilitation order, saying she had had a taste of prison.

Mr Justice Moses said the court was sympathetic to the problems experienced by Dunn's daughter.

The judge also noted Dunn's guilty plea, difficult background, and the fact a pre-sentence report recommended a community rehabilitation order.

Last March, Dunn set fire to the semi-detached house which she lived in. "There had been a quarrel, precise details of which were never clear, with a friend of hers," said the judge.

"Both parties had been drinking, as was this appellant's custom. She was alprobably under the influence of drugs.

"She went to her bedroom, so she said, with the intention of setting fire to it and asphyxiating herself with smoke, wanting to commit suicide."

Mr Moses said Dunn showed no concern for her friend who, for all she knew, was still in the house.

Her friend bravely tried to rescue Dunn by kicking down the door, but lost consciousness from breathing in smoke.

"This lady has had a life in which she has faced appalling difficulties and has clearly demonstrated an inability to cope with them," said the judge.