Man who set fire to Duns home avoids jail time

A 39-year-old man borrowed a cigarette lighter and then said he was going to burn down his friend's house in Duns, Jedburgh Sheriff Court has been told.

Tuesday, 16th February 2021, 10:28 am
Jedburgh Sheriff Court

The man who gave Anthony Demarco the lighter thought he was joking.

But Demarco, who was intoxicated at the time, carried out his pledge, resulting in people gathering in the street, screaming at the house occupier and his friend to vacate the building.

Sheriff Peter Paterson said a fire-raising offence would normally attract a custodial sentence, but he said he was prepared to follow the recommendation in background reports and defer sentence for one year for good behaviour.

He told Demarco that he expected he would save £1,000 during that period, which would be used to pay compensation for the damage he caused.

Demarco had pleaded guilty on indictment at Jedburgh Sheriff Court to a charge of damaging the door of the property in The Mount, Duns, last summer.

Procurator fiscal Fraser Matheson said the incident happened at around 10pm, when the accused appeared to be in an intoxicated state.

He said: “He had borrowed a lighter from someone nearby and then said ‘I am away to set B*****'s house on fire’.

“The person who had loaned him the lighter assumed it was a joke.

“ But the accused carried on and the door was set on fir e with a man and someone else inside.

“People gathered outside the property and screamed to the householder that his house was on fire.

“The householder started to fill pans of cold water to put on the fire and made efforts to extinguish the fire with a piece of carpet.

“They managed to get out of the property and put out the fire before the fire service arrived.”

Mr Matheson explained that three fire appliances arrived at the scene with 15 fire fighters.

There was a smell of petrol and a small petrol can was found, which had been used to cause significant fire da mage to the door.

The incident was reported to the police on June 1 last year and the accused pleaded guilty to the fire-raising offence on January 5 this year.

Sheriff Peter Paterson deferred sentence until February 14 next year for good behaviour and warned Demarco of the consequences if he commits an offence during that period.