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Sunday, 20 April 2014

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Six year prison term for mum who set fire to house

A mother was beginning a six-year prison sentence today for starting a fire at her own home then claiming two other women did it.

Deborah Donald photo
Deborah Donald

Deborah Donald, 34, told police she and her two-year-old daughter had to escape by climbing out of a window at the semi-detached house in Wastwater Avenue, Workington, after the two women set fire to the front door.

She and the child were taken to hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation after firefighters found them in the garden as the house filled with smoke.

But, Carlisle Crown Court heard, Donald had started the fire herself – and called the emergency services only after taking her daughter to safety outside.

When police arrived she named Samantha Campbell and Naomi Adams as the people who had started the fire. The two were arrested and spent several hours in the cells before police checked out their alibis.

The Honorary Recorder of Carlisle, Judge Paul Batty QC, told Donald what she had done was “incredibly dangerous and wicked”.

Prosecutor Gerard Rogerson said Donald’s friends had become increasingly concerned about her state of mind before the fire, especially when she threatened to kill herself.

On July 16 they were so worried they tried to persuade her to let her children be cared for by someone else. She let her three-year-old son go to his grandmother’s but insisted on keeping her daughter with her.

In the small hours of the next morning she left her daughter at home alone for an hour and turned up drunk at her local Tesco, claiming that two people had threatened to burn her house down.

At about 4am she called the fire brigade, reporting that her house was on fire.

Firefighters found her in her garden, cradling her daughter.

The court heard Donald, who suffers from depression and is “vulnerable and of low intelligence”, had “issues” with the two women she framed.

Donald pleaded guilty to arson and being reckless as to whether the lives of other people would be endangered and admitted exposing her daughter to unnecessary suffering or injury to health by leaving her alone when she went to Tesco. She was jailed for four years for arson and child cruelty and two for perverting the course of justice.

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