Man facing repossession set fire to his home

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A JUDGE yesterday took pity on a 23-year-old man who set fire to his home the day before it was due to be repossessed by a bank.

Oxford Crown Court was told that Darren Kerry and his two brothers wanted to sell the house for 63,000 to clear their debts, and had found a buyer. But Citibank refused to sanction the deal because it said it was still owed another 3,000.

Judge Patrick Medd told Kerry, of Littlemore, Oxford, that people usually went to prison for setting fire to homes and putting the lives of others at risk.

But he added: 'I am satisfied this was entirely out of character. The position that you were put in when Citibank refused to accept 63,000 I can understand. It must have been frustrating and infuriating to a degree.'

Kerry was given a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years after pleading guilty to arson, and being reckless as to whether lives would be endangered, on 23 March.

Roger Graham, for the prosecution, said Kerry bought the terraced house in Cowley, Oxford, in July 1990 with his two brothers but was made redundant as a tyre fitter within 12 months.

Arrears built up, and the day before the bank was to repossess the house he set fire to the living room curtains after he had been drinking. He immediately alerted neighbours as flames leapt from the house.

Jonathan Coode, for the defence, said: 'Citibank were, in my opinion, extremely foolish.'

He said the decision had been the last straw for Kerry, who had lost his head.

Mr Coode denied the prosecution's claim that the house was destroyed and said only a living room was damaged by fire.