A roubled teenager who started a fire in his Ravensthorpe flat in a “call for help” after a row with his girlfriend has been locked up.
Reece Schofield had suffered from depression for some time without getting proper help, Anastasis Tassou representing him told Leeds Crown Court.
He was not behaving rationally prior to the arson in October and afterwards his behaviour was equally “bizarre”, he said.
Duncan Ritchie prosecuting said shortly after midnight Schofield had rung his mother from his flat in Garden Street, Ravensthorpe hysterical and saying he had cut his arm. He would not take her advice to go to hospital and she reminded him he would have to get up for work the next day.
However around 7am when his girlfriend Ellie Wood woke him he became upset about the prospect of her leaving him and threw clothes at her. At one point asking her to leave, the next begging her to stay.
He screamed he was going to burn the property down and got a petrol can and poured the contents over the kitchen floor of his flat which was rented from Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing. He then asked her for a lighter. A neighbour living below heard her asking Schofield “What are you doing?” before she left the property. When he went to investigate the shouting the neighbour saw smoke pouring from the flat upstairs.
At the police station he had to be forcibly restrained trying to bite himself and accidentally bit one of the officers. He said he had suffered from depression from years and said he had not intended to hurt anyone when he started the fire.
Mr Tassou told the court he had now been diagnosed as having an emotionally unstable personality disorder and clearly needed support if he could exceptionally be released into the community. “This was a genuine cry for help.”
Schofield, 18, admitted arson being reckless whether life was endangered and was sent to a young offender institution for 18 months.
Judge Guy Kearl QC said in spite of his condition and remorse custody was inevitable. His actions had caused smoke to spread through his building potentially putting others at risk although damage restricted to the kitchen.