AN ASYLUM seeker suffering post-traumatic stress disorder after he was subjected to ‘unthinkable torture’ in Iran set fire to his South Yorkshire flat causing £34,000 of damage.
Ahmed Hassan Ali, aged 23, was given a 12-month jail term suspended for two years by Judge Peter Kelson QC at Sheffield Crown Court.
Sentencing Ali, who spent nine months on remand in jail, Judge Kelson told him: “Nobody reading the reports of your suffering could fail to be moved by them – but the extent of my mercy is you don’t have to serve any more time in prison.
“Given this country extended to you a flat of your own, and you repaid this country by destroying it and causing £34,000 worth of damage, I am mindful and content that deportation should be considered.”
Elizabeth Martin, prosecuting, said Ali – a Kurdish Iranian national – was set up in his flat in Ladyoak Road, Dalton, by Rotherham Council.
At 12.30am last September 14, he made an agitated phone call to the police telling them he was concerned for his safety and asking to speak to someone from the immigration department.
He told the operator he’d been tipped off that his wife was in danger and there were people in two cars acting suspiciously outside his flat. When a police officer called him back he hung up.
At 1am the emergency services received a 999 call from Ali who told them his flat was on fire. The blaze ripped through the property, destroying the contents.
Miss Martin said Ali told paramedics he’d seen someone inside the flat, going from the living room into the kitchen and then jumping out of the window. But she said there was no evidence of an intruder, and a fire service investigation revealed the blaze had been started deliberately. Ali admitted arson.
John Hillis, defending, said Ali had come to the UK in 2005 after being arrested and tortured in Iran for his beliefs.
“The scars and other marks on his body are consistent with the account given,” he said.
He added Ali had suffered post-traumatic shock disorder as a result and had been on medication for depression.