Man who set mattress on fire spared jail

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A SHEFFIELD man with long-term mental health problems set his mattress alight after he failed to take his medication.

Paul Crowhurst, aged 42, pleaded guilty to causing damage by fire at a Sheffield housing complex for people with mental health issues, a facility run by the charity Rethink.

Sheffield Crown Court heard an occupant in the floor above Crowhurst’s flat called the police, and when officers arrived they saw smoke pouring out of his window.

Prosecutor Stephanie Hollis said: “Officers saw the defendant through the window. He was just stood there.

“He was retching and coughing. The officer was able to direct him to stand up onto the window sill and managed to drag him through.

“There was substantial damage to the flat. He was treated at the Northern General Hospital. When he was interviewed he showed remorse and appeared confused.”

She said he was on medication at the time but had not been taking it.

Judge Michael Murphy QC said: “The dilemma is whether to protect the public by hiding him away somewhere or by having some supervised existence in the community.

“For the last eight or nine years he has been out of trouble altogether. He can survive quite well in the community, provided he has taken his medication.”

Judge Murphy passed a mental health treatment order and requested Crowhurst be transferred to supervised accommodation provided by the 911 Project - a facility run by South Yorkshire Housing Association.

He told Crowhurst: “If you don’t take your medication things will go wrong.

“You are capable of leading a perfectly decent life. You are going to go to a new address which has supervision involved with it.

“This is an exciting new start for you. Make sure you do what the doctors tell you or you might be back before the court - and you might end up in prison.”

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