A CONVICTED arsonist who set fire to his own terraced home while neighbours slept has been ruled to be a dangerous offender.
A judge imposed a total sentence of seven years on Michael Owen of which four and a half year are behind bars with an extended licence of two and a half years.
Liverpool Crown Court heard that about 10.15pm on April 6 this year Michael Roberts, Owen’s next door neighbour in Ince Green Lane, Wigan, heard loud noises and music coming from his home and he saw him in the rear garden drinking.
He asked him to turn the music down and the woman with Owen suggested that he should do so and he went in and turned it down. Later after she left, Mr Roberts heard screaming and items being thrown around in Owen’s home.
About an hour later while he was upstairs he could smell smoke and he told his partner to get outside with their young child, said Frank Dillon, prosecuting.
The smell of smoke got stronger and on going outside he could see the windows of Owen’s home were blackened with smoke and it was also coming out the letter box.
He rang the emergency services and heard Owen’s windows cracking with the heat and knowing that the neighbours on the other side of Owen’s home were asleep he banged on the front door and succeeded in waking them up and they were able to flee.
When the fire brigade arrived they closed the road to deal with the blaze which caused just under £10,000 worth of damage and the landlord lost £1,800 in rent while it was repaired, said Mr Dillon.
Meanwhile, 26-year-old Owen had gone to the home of his mum who had already been contacted by police concerned for his welfare. He denied he had done anything wrong and ran off but returned later drunk and threatened to slit his throat if the police arrived.
His mother calmed him down and when officers arrived he admitted starting the blaze and said he set fire to the couch after his girlfriend rang and said he could not see his baby any more.
In an impact statement Mr Roberts said that he keeps thinking that if he had not smelt the smoke he and his family might never have woken up.
Owen, who has 37 previous convictions including two for arson, pleaded guilty to arson being reckless whether life was endangered.
Jailing him Judge Denis Watson, QC, said that a psychiatric report showed he has an “emotionally unstable personality.”
A probation report found he represents a high risk of re-offending and has an impulsive nature and abuses alcohol, said the judge.