Arsonist wanted to die

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A MAN who was depressed after splitting up with his girlfriend decided to kill himself by setting fire to his mother’s home, a court heard.

When Scott Bateson’s mum arrived back from work to her home in Atherton, she found the fire brigade there, and Bateson, who had been drinking, said, “Mum I’ve burnt your house.”

He lit various small fires in the kitchen, and when these became a large blaze he fled upstairs and managed to escape when a neighbour put a ladder up to a window.

Liverpool Crown Court heard the blaze caused at least £20,000 of damage.

Jailing him for 20 months, Judge Brian Lewis pointed out that it was a mid-terraced house, and the fire could easily have spread to adjoining homes.

He said he sympathised with Bateson’s difficulties “but the problem with arson is that when fires are started they are very difficult to control.

“No one is suggesting you considered that risk, but you and the public must understand that is why arson is so serious.”

It had been believed there was a dog in the house, which put at risk those looking for it and firefighters, he added.

Harry Pepper, prosecuting, said 30-year-old Bateson split up with his partner. Because he had been violent to her, a restraining order had been made, which meant he could not see his children.

He turned to drink and moved into his mother’s home in Blake Avenue,.

After only a few days, on December 8, while she was out at work he went to a neighbour’s home and asked if they would come to his funeral.

He went back to the house intending to kill himself and started the fires, said Mr Pepper.

Bateson, of Clements Close, Howe Bridge, Atherton, pleaded guilty to arson and being in breach of suspended sentences for battery and harassment.

William Swalwell, defending, said Bateson had been distressed after the break-up of his relationship, and being unable to see his children.

He also lost his window cleaning round, into which he had put a lot of effort, and he was essentially homeless.

The day before the offence he drank a bottle of vodka, and on the day consumed seven cans of lager and, feeling depressed, he decided to kill himself.

“Afterwards, in the cold light of day he said, ‘I am devastated with what I have done to mum.’”

Mr Swalwell said a medical report showed he was genuinely remorseful and his mother has shown understanding and support.