Norwich woman escapes jail after setting fire to her own property

Foulgers Opening block of flats at the time of the incident. Picture: David Bale Foulgers Opening block of flats at the time of the incident. Picture: David Bale

Saturday, August 9, 2014
3:53 PM

A 35-year-old woman who set fire to her flat in Norwich has been spared jail, after the court heard she would pose less public risk after undertaking a 36-month community order.

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Tanya Yemm appeared for sentencing at Norwich Crown Court yesterday, after pleading guilty at an earlier hearing to arson, and being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

Yemm, from Branfield Close, Norwich, was living at a five-storey block of flats in Foulgers Opening, off Ber Street, when she set fire to the property on December 9 last year.

Richard White, prosecuting, said there were two flats on each floor and she lived on the ground floor.

He said that another occupant saw Yemm entering the flats at about midnight. A few seconds later he could hear her coughing and struggling to breathe.

When the fire crews arrived, the living room was well alight, Mr White said. An investigation found the blaze was deliberate, with a cigarette the likeliest cause.

Michael Clare, for Yemm, said a 36-month community order would be feasible, and he said the local authority would review her special housing needs on a six-monthly basis.

Judge Katharine Moore, sentencing Yemm, said: “This is a difficult sentencing exercise, as what you did put people’s lives at risk. You behaved as you did because you were unable to cope with living independently at the time. A significant prison sentence is deserved, but that would not reduce the risk you pose to the public.”

She was handed a 36-month community order and supervision with a 24-month mental health requirement.

“If we had not been able to deal with it this way, you would have been looking at a prison sentence measured in years,” Miss Moore said.

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