Man threatened to burn down house with his mother inside
A 32-year-old man who threatened to burn the family home down whilst his mother was inside and who then proceeded to light a fire on the first floor has been placed on probation for three years.
Jamed Neville Paul Weale was under the influence of drink and drugs when he started a fire in a bedroom of the Malone Park home he shares with his mother.
Eugene Grant QC, acting on behalf of Weale, said that at the time of the incident, his intoxicated client was "lighting candles and praying" at a Buddhist shrine he had made, and that he "must have stumbled" into the shrine in his "drunken and drugged condition."
Weale appeared at Belfast Crown Court for his hearing in a wheelchair, having had to have a leg amputated just below the knee earlier this year. Mr Grant revealed that the amputation was required following a vascular problem which developed after Weale "ingested a large dose of drugs".
A Crown prosecutor said the arson charge arose on October 17 last year, when two police officers were called to Malone Park. When they arrived, Weale's mother Linda was outside at the rear of the property, whilst her son was located on the first floor.
He was noted to be in a state of distress, was holding a candle and refused to come down the stairs. When his mother went back into the house, Weale became aggressive and abusive towards her. He also shouted that he was going to burn the house down whilst she was in it.
A short time after he issued the threat, a smoke alarm went off and the officers saw thick, dark smoke coming from the first floor.
Revealing that there was "extensive damage" caused to the house, the prosecutor said that when the house was later examined, the seat of the fire was found to be between a bed and wall in one of the bedrooms. An attempt had also been made to set fire to a set of blinds.
The prosecutor also said: "Clearly there was an obvious issue about the mental state of the accused at the time of his arrest."
Weale subsequently admitted a charge of arson endangering the life of his mother. Defence barrister Eugene Grant revealed that on the day in question, Weale had consumed a bottle of rum as well as taking both prescription drugs and legal highs that he purchased online.
Telling the court that Weale considered his mother to be "his rock and remains his rock", Mr Grant said his client had "enormous regret and remorse".
Placing Weale on three years probation, Belfast Recorder Judge David McFarland said it was fortunate that the police officers at the scene were able to react as quickly as they did, and that no-one suffered any injuries.