Woman jailed over arson for insurance

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A WOMAN has been jailed for three years after she admitted setting her rented flat on fire in a bid to get some insurance money.

Rebecca Hartley told police later she set light to curtains with a piece of paper and then set fire to her son’s bed because she was thousands of pounds in debt and hoped it would help her pay them off.

Leeds Crown Court heard yesterday the damage to the flat in Bradford Road, Liversedge, was estimated at more than £30,000.

Rukhshanda Hussain, prosecuting, said a witness driving past the address stopped when she saw the fire. Hartley was outside and when asked if anyone was inside returned to knock on her neighbour’s door.

Anastasis Tassou, representing Hartley, told the court at the time she was suffering from an undiagnosed mental illness.

She had subsequently spent time having treatment in hospital for her condition and had responded so well she was now back on remand in New Hall prison.

He suggested the damage was not as high as estimated and urged the judge to take a merciful course.

Hartley, 24, admitted arson being reckless whether life was endangered on August 23 last year.

Judge Guy Kearl, QC, told her he accepted at the time she was suffering from a recognised mental illness “possibly from the use of the drug M-cat” and spent time in hospital having treatment for paranoia.

But as long as she took her medication there was now no longer a need for her to be in hospital.

“It seems you set these fires in order to claim insurance money to pay of your debts. The results of your actions could easily have been fatal to your neighbour.”