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Woman tried to blame husband for blaze at her Deighton home

Cheryl McEwan has been jailed for more than four years

Cheryl McEwan who admitted dangerous driving, robbery, theft and arson reckless whether life was endangered(Image: West Yorkshire Police)

A woman has been jailed after she started a fire at her home in Deighton and tried to blame her estranged husband.

Leeds Crown Court heard Cheryl McEwan, who had mental health problems, was already on bail for offences including robbery of a taxi driver and knocking a man over with her car when she rang police on June 27 last year.

Duncan Ritchie, prosecuting, said she claimed she was in imminent danger from her ex-husband saying he had threatened to burn the house down with her in it.

She was advised to go to the police station where she could be helped and said she would but failed to do so.

She phoned again later with similar allegations but actually took a taxi to a petrol station in Leeds Road, bought some lighter fluid and returned to her council address in Glenfield Avenue where she started a fire with paper and clothing in the lobby behind the front door.

Glenfield Avenue, Deighton.

Mr Ritchie said soon after a neighbour saw thick black smoke billowing from the terraced house. He alerted the fire brigade and rushed over believing McEwan was still inside.

Initially she was intending to kill herself but changed her mind, leaving out the back. The fire was put out but it was estimated to cost between £12,000 to 15,000 to repair. When she was traced to a bar she blamed her ex-husband.

The court heard she was first bailed after an incident on August 9, 2015 when there was an altercation at a Marsh play area which involved her arguing with other parents.

One of the women involved went and told her husband who went to remonstrate with McEwan in the car park. She ignored him and got into her car, drove past an exit taking a bend sharply and caught the man, knocking him over.

Mr Ritchie said he was not injured but was shaken and tried to run after McEwan but she drove off.

Glenfield Avenue, Deighton.

Having spent some time in a psychiatric unit she moved into the house in Glenfield Avenue, but was told it was only temporary by the council.

On November 18 she appeared in court denying the dangerous driving charge. Later that day she took a taxi to Fartown but during the journey suddenly shouted to the driver to pull over in Blacker Road saying she had a knife.

She ordered him out and drove off in his car with around £35 cash and his phone. The vehicle was tracked to a gym in Waterloo where McEwan claimed she had found the keys and denied any robbery.

She had further psychiatric treatment before on April 30 she contacted a woman selling a car and asked to see it. She then asked to go for a test drive and having been given the keys drove off, stealing it before the woman could get in.

Leeds Combined Courts, Crown Court.

In June, following the death of her father and notice to quit her address, she threatened to attack and kill anyone who tried to get her out of the house two days before she started the fire.

Stephen Grattage, representing McEwan, said the offences were serious but reflected her dysfunctional thinking at the time when faced with various pressures in her life.

She had received effective treatment for her psychosis while in custody for the last year and was no longer considered the risk she had been. He urged she be dealt with in the community.

McEwan, 34, admitted dangerous driving, robbery, theft and arson reckless whether life was endangered and was jailed for a total of four and a half years.

Judge Sally Cahill QC said she accepted her mental health problems had contributed to her offending but there had also been calculation in what she did.

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