Fireraiser who snubbed chance of freedom jailed

Edward Crook was jailed at Falkirk Sheriff Court
Edward Crook was jailed at Falkirk Sheriff Court

A man who set fire to his mother’s flat has been jailed for 14 months.

Edward Crook was originally placed on a community payback order after admitting deliberately starting the blaze last October – but sent to prison last Thursday for repeatedly failing to comply with it.

Falkirk Sheriff Court heard that a joiner sent to replace the locks of the property struggled to get in because the front door appeared to be barricaded from the inside.

He detected smoke coming from behind the front door - but, by that time, so had neighbours and firefighters were already on their way.

As they raced to the scene Crook was seen dropping from a first floor window and running away, but was later traced by police and arrested.

The court was told emergency crews using breathing apparatus forced their way inside to tackle the blaze as the rest of the block at Beauly Court in Falkirk was evacuated.

Investigations by Scottish Fire and Rescue experts later concluded the fire had been set deliberately.

Crook’s mother had been in the process of moving out of the flat and had packed boxes with her belongings ahead of the flit.

His lawyer said: “He was homeless at the time and staying in the flat. He had put the boxes against the door as a ‘makeshift’ security measure because the lock had been vandalised. He knew the flat was empty and wanted to get some sleep there.

“The flat was in darkness so he retrieved some candles from a box and lit them to provide some light.”

The lawyer added that Crook was “under the influence” of drugs at the time and that, when he woke up and heard the fire engines, he “panicked”, jumped out the window and ran away.

Sheriff Craig Caldwell was told Crook (25) could spend up to £50 a day feeding his heroin habit and that day had taken a “great deal” of the drug.

His lawyer urged that Crook not be sent to jail but be placed on a community payback order that would include him getting treatment for his addiction. He claimed: “He is a very vulnerable individual. Without that help he is not going to get any better and if he goes to prison he is not going to come out drug free.”

Sheriff Caldwell told Crook: “You have been given every opportunity to engage with the support offered by a community based disposal but decided against taking any of it. Frankly, there is now absolutely no alternative to custody.”