Bomb disposal officer avoids jail after setting fire to his own home

The house in Second Avenue, Grantham. 687C

The house in Second Avenue, Grantham. 687C

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A former soldier set fire to his rented home after being served with notice to quit, Lincoln Crown Court was told.

Keith Prescott, who served as a bomb disposal officer in the Falklands, Bosnia and Iraq, had been asked to leave the property in Second Avenue, Grantham, following complaints from a neighbour.

Christopher Geeson, prosecuting, said Prescott started a series of fires in the bedroom, lounge and on the staircase.

The emergency services were call out and fire fighters arrived to find Prescott “unresponsive” on a sofa.

He had suffered burns to the lower half of his body and later confessed to police that he started the blaze saying he set fire to his legs. He said he was depressed and had been drinking.

Prescott, 53, of Station Road, Grantham, admitted arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered on 29 September 2012.

Chris Jeyes, defending, said Prescott had been decorated for his army service earning a Queen’s Commendation in 1995 for his work in Iraq and after leaving the army he worked for a contractor clearing mines.

The court heard that Prescott’s mental health had been badly affected after he lost his job.

Mr Jeyes said “It is an irony that he has spent much of his working life keeping other people safe.”

Prescott was given an 18-month jail sentence suspended for two years with a two year mental health treatment order.

Judge Sean Morris told Prescott it was not necessary to pass an immediate jail sentence telling him he had served his country with distinction during his time in the Royal Engineers.

Passing sentence the Judge said: “At a time when you were medically depressed thinking that your career was in tatters you drank yourself insensible and set fire to your house.

“You were severely burned and it is by the grace of God that nobody else was hurt.”