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Sunday, 21 September 2014

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Carlisle police officers confronted ‘by 7ft wall of fire’

Police officers were confronted by a 7ft high wall of fire when a man they were trying to help set fire to liquid lighter fuel.

Nathan Paton, 31, later told officers that his only intention was to harm himself.

The frightening incident happened in the early hours of January 2 after a domestic dispute between the defendant and his mother and sister, Carlisle Crown Court heard.

Jonathan Clarke, prosecuting, said that after arguing with his mother, Paton, of Flower Street, off London Road, said he would kill himself and went off to his room, locking the door.

Police arrived and while they were knocking on the door to check on Paton, they noticed a flash of light from inside the room.

A liquid that leaked from beneath the door was burning, the flames at one point reaching a height of 7ft, said the barrister.

One officer grabbed a fire extinguisher from his car and put out the fire.

Through the door, the officers continued speaking to Paton, who said he would open it but the only way they could get in was by taking the door off its hinges.

Once inside, they restrained the defendant, though he was not attacking them.

At the police station, Paton, who admitted an offence of arson being reckless of whether he had endangered the lives of others, said he had wanted to kill himself.

He said he had used the blade of a pencil sharpener to cut himself.

“He said he was trying to get rid of himself and that he was sick of like,” said Mr Clarke.

When he spilled the lighter fuel and ignited it, he said, he had been standing right beside it and his intention had been to burn himself.

Elizabeth Muir, for Paton, said that he wanted to return to live with his mother.

The court heard that during his six months in custody, the defendant had struggled to integrate and had self harmed, yet he had not been getting help for his problems in jail.

Judge Peter Hughes QC adjourned sentencing Paton until Monday of next week, saying that more background information about the case was needed.

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