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Co Down man jailed after setting friend's letterbox on fire

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Aaron Mayne was handed a sentence of two years and four months

Aaron Mayne was handed a sentence of two years and four months

Aaron Mayne was handed a sentence of two years and four months

A Co Down man who tried to kick the door of his friend's flat in before setting fire to the letterbox was jailed on Thursday.

In the aftermath of the incident in Newtownards last November, Aaron Mayne was caught in possession of a knife which Judge Geoffrey Miller QC described as a "potentially murderous weapon."

From Bangor Road in Newtownards, Mayne was handed a sentence of two years and four months after he appeared at a remote hearing of Downpatrick Crown Crown, sitting in Belfast.

The 30-year old - who appeared via a videolink from Maghaberry - was told he will serve 14 months of his sentence in prison, followed by the same period on licence when he is released from jail.

Crown barrister Jonathan Connolly said police received a 999 call around 10pm on November 7 last year, stating a man was trying to kick in the door of a flat in John Street, and that a fire had been started at the property.

As police arrived at the scene, they stopped Mayne close to the flats and detained him. Officers then made their way to the blaze, and observed flames coming from a melting letterbox.

Due to concerns about the safety of the occupant, police forced entry to the smoke-filled flat and found a male lying asleep on a chair.

Mr Connolly said that whilst the occupant was escorted to safety, one officer had to attend hospital due to smoke inhalation.

When Mayne was searched at the scene, a large black knife was found in his backpack. He was also found to be in possession of five Diazepam tablets.

He was arrested and during police interviews he claimed he had gone to the flat to confront his friend about money missing from his child's moneybox.

Mayne said he set fire to the letterbox in a bid to make his friend leave his flat so he could confront him. He said he had consumed drink and drugs before arriving at the flat, and when asked about the knife, Mayne claimed he carried it for protection.

The father-of-one later admitted five charges arising from the incident - including arson, attempted burglary with intent to commit GBH and possessing the knife.

Defence barrister Alan Blackburn said having spend the last eight months in prison, Mayne now realises that he "needs to change his ways."

Telling Judge Miller there was "no history of violence" on Mayne's criminal record, Mr Blackburn said the incident at his friend's flat was "out of character."

As he sentenced Mayne, Judge Miller said that reports compiled on the defendant indicate there are unresolved issues from his past which have impacted on his mental health.

Also noted by the Judge was Mayne's history of drug consumption, which began aged 11 with the use of cannabis and which has also had a detrimental impact on his mental wellbeing.

Describing Mayne's behaviour last November as "pre-meditated", Judge Miller said his actions resulted in a police officer seeking hospital treatment.

He also expressed concern about the knife Mayne was carrying that night, saying it was a "pretty horrific item."

Saying there was "no question" the offences warranted custody, Judge Miller imposed a sentence of two years and four months.

Belfast Telegraph