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Bangor man set fire to flats in suicide attempt, court told

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Belfast High Court

Belfast High Court

Belfast High Court

A man allegedly set fire to his home while he was inside during a suspected suicide attempt, the High Court heard on Wednesday.

Raymond Jackson was found unconscious after making a 999 call to say the flat at Drumawhey Gardens in Bangor, Co Down was ablaze, a judge was told.

The 58-year-old faces a charge of arson with intent to endanger the lives of residents in the apartment complex.

Prosecutors claimed he phoned the emergency services on September 25 last year, stating that his home was on fire and he wanted to kill himself.

He was kept on the line as firefighters went to the scene, the court heard.

But when a crew entered the property Jackson was unconscious, apparently having been overcome by fumes.

Jackson was taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation.

Investigators concluded that the fire was started deliberately in the living room.

Cassette tapes and PVC coverings located on the floor are believed to have been set alight and caused significant damage.

The cost of repairing the Housing Executive property is estimated to reach £3,000.

A Crown lawyer said some of the other flats were occupied at the time, although residents were unaware of the blaze until fire crews arrived.

During interviews Jackson claimed he had blacked out after drinking two pints of cider, but denied being suicidal.

"He said he couldn't recall anything from approximately 11am until he woke up in hospital later on that date," the barrister added.

Opposing bail, the prosecution argued that he had informed authorities that he wanted to die and would have known other flats were occupied.

Defence counsel Sean Doherty argued that Jackson should be released due to delays in the case.

"This is a man with mental health difficulties, so the need for expedition must be greater than in normal circumstances," Mr Doherty submitted.

Adjourning the application, Lord Justice Treacy said he wanted an explanation for the apparent delay.

The judge also stressed the need to ensure other people are not harmed by any alleged activities.

He said: "So far we have been very fortunate nobody has been injured, and no very serious damage done."

Belfast Telegraph