Man to be sentenced for setting fire to student

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The Independent Online

A man who set fire to a student dressed as a sheep will be sentenced today.

Jason Whatley, 38, admitted setting fire to 19-year-old student Stuart Mitchell at the Headingley Taps pub in Leeds last October, but claimed he thought it was a joke.

Mr Mitchell spent nearly a month in hospital after his costume, which is believed to have been made from black tights and a close-fitting top with cotton wool balls attached, was engulfed in flames during the night out.

Whatley, of Faroes Close, Fareham, Hampshire, pleaded guilty at Leeds Crown Court last month to arson reckless as to whether life was endangered.

Prosecutor Richard Gioserano said the defendant believed at the time his actions were just a prank.

Mr Gioserano said: "The Crown accepts that, believe it or not, the defendant thought in his state of mind at the time, that this was a joke."

Recorder Simon Jackson QC granted Whatley conditional bail and told him he was giving "no indication of what the ultimate outcome will be".

He will be sentenced at Leeds Crown Court this morning.