Desperate woman committed arson after benefits dispute

A desperate poorly woman who set fire to curtains in her own home after making an unsuccessful benefits application has been fined and given a community order.

Friday, 8th April 2016, 9:30 am

Chesterfield magistrates’ court heard on Monday, April 4, how Christine Mason, 51, of Heanor Road, Codnor, Ripley, set fire to the curtains at the Future Homescape property on Holywell Avenue, Codnor.

Defence solicitor Rob Sowter said: “She made full admissions and has expressed remorse. The offence was a cry for help.

“She has been on Employment and Support Allowance benefits for two or three years and there was always a dispute about the level of this because of her mental and physical difficulties and she has problems with her back.

“This culminated in a letter saying her ESA application wasn’t successful and she decided to set fire to the curtains in her front room and she immediately told the fire brigade.”

Mason pleaded guilty to committing the arson after the incident on March 20.

The probation service explained that the offence had occurred during a time of heightened stress and ill health as her benefits were being stopped.

Mason is unfit for work, according to the probation service, due to ill health as she suffers from a head injury, swelling to her brain and epileptic fits.

The court also heard how Mason has expressed a large amount of remorse.

Magistrates sentenced Mason to a 12 month community order with a Rehabilitation Activity Programme.

She was also fined £120 and ordered to pay a £60 victim surcharge and £85 costs.