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Prison for man who started a fire in stairwell to keep warm

A MAN stranded in Lerwick after a night out who set fire to rubbish in the stairwell of a block of flats to stay warm before falling asleep has been jailed for 14 months.

Adam Hope, of Grampian Prison, appeared from custody at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday to admit setting fire to cardboard in the St Magnus Street block of flats on 3 March – which risked the fire spreading and endangering the building’s occupants.

Procurator fiscal Duncan Mackenzie said the 25 year old drunkenly visited Lerwick Police Station at around 1.30am to ask for a lift home, or shelter for the night, because he had no money for a taxi back to Scalloway.

After receiving suitable “advice” from officers, Hope went on his way and eventually decided to sleep in the stairwell of a three-storey block of flats, which was located next to a fire escape.

He set up shop underneath the stairs and decided to light up a collection of cardboard and discarded items in an effort to stay warm.

Firefighters were alerted at around 5.30am after smoke was reported in the block of flats, which was full at the time and had elderly people and children residing in it.

They found Hope lying asleep in front of the remnants of the fire, which had burnt itself out.

There was possibility of “significant danger”, Mackenzie said, and the blaze’s location – next to a fire exit – was potentially disastrous.

Defence agent Tommy Allan said his client was left stranded in Lerwick on a cold night and that there was no other intention from Hope than to keep warm.

“Clearly that was stupid and extremely dangerous”, Allan admitted.

Sheriff Philip Mann said that there was no doubt that Hope’s brain was “fuddled with drink” at the time.

He gave the man 10 months in prison, which was reduced by two months due to the amount of time he had already spent in custody.

However, Sheriff Mann added on another four months because Hope offended while on bail.