Sheffield woman attempted to take her own life by torching her dad’s home while he slept

A mentally-ill arsonist who set fire to the living room at her father’s home has been spared from prison.

Thursday, 8th April 2021, 2:43 pm

Kerry Kernachan had been living at her frail father’s home on Beckett Avenue, Lowedges, Sheffield, when she set fire to the curtains, according to a Sheffield Crown Court hearing.

Prosecuting barrister Jane Brady told the hearing on March 30 Kernachan’s father woke to banging and hammering and the smell of smoke and asked his daughter what was going on.

Ms Brady said the defendant’s father noticed smoke alarms had been damaged before he managed to get out and the fire service was alerted.

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A cordon of police tape (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP via Getty Images)

Recorder Anthony Hawks revealed that £5,000 of damage had been caused.

He told Kernachan: “Whilst I understand you are somebody with a whole raft of personal problems and you have had a tragic life you cannot act in a way that puts other people’s lives in danger.”

The 40-year-old defendant, who suffered a swelling to her head and smoke inhalation, told police she had set fire to the curtains and had attempted to take her own life.

She added that all she could remember was hearing voices telling her to hurt herself and other people but she had not wanted to hurt her father.

Kernachan, of Lane End, Chapeltown, Sheffield, pleaded guilty to arson as to being reckless as to whether life would be endangered after the incident on August 14, 2019.

The fire service who extinguished the blaze stated the probable cause was deliberate ignition of the living room curtains which caused extensive damage to the Sheffield City Council property.

Recorder Hawks told Kernachan he recognised she has taken steps to address her mental health problems and that she does not have a pathological interest in setting fires.

He sentenced Kernachan to two years of custody suspended for two years with a Rehabilitation Activity Requirement.

He told her: “You did a terrible thing that day and it could have turned out a lot worse, not just for you but for somebody else, so never ever think of doing that again.”

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