AN ARSONIST caused £10,500 fire damage less than a month after he and an accomplice burgled a Carlisle flat.

Richard Ireland had been drinking heavily by the time he began a blaze in the basement of a multi-occupancy Compton Street house on February 23.

Others were inside the property and evacuated after Ireland, 30, used a naked flame to start a fire which had three separate “seats” but didn’t spread.

Of one resident, prosecutor Gareth Roberts told Carlisle Crown Court: “As they left the kitchen they saw smoke billowing from a gas cupboard.”

Ireland’s crime left the landlord with a £10,500 repair bill.

He was on bail after a burglary with partner-in-crime with 32-year-old Billy Moorhead at a Chatsworth Square flat just 27 days earlier.

Occupant Aaron Wildey was in a communal bathroom when he heard noises from his flat. He returned, encountered intruders Ireland and Moorhead, and realised £110 cash was missing.

“Both defendants he saw looked shocked and panicked, and tried to get out of his way,” said Mr Roberts.

Mr Wildey snatched £30 from Moorhead, saying: “No one is leaving until I get the money.” Ireland was found with £80 after the burglars’ detention and arrest.

Ireland, of Flower Street, Carlisle, admitted burglary and arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered, and received a 45-month jail term.

Alaric Walmsley, defending, revealed he was suffering from alcohol dependency and post-traumatic stress disorder.

He said: “At the point of release he wants to live a productive and prosperous life without alcohol.”

Moorhead, of Albert Street, Longtown, admitted burglary and was locked up for 18 months.

His lawyer, Sean Harkin, called the offence “out of character”, and spoke of Moorhead’s learning disability, saying: “This was an offence committed on impulse by somebody who has poor impulse control.”

Judge David Potter praised burglary victim Mr Wildey’s courage.

He said: “To his credit and his considerable fortitude he struggled with both of you and detained both of you with the assistance of other residents from the flats who had been alerted to the noise.”