Man who caused Northampton homeless shelter to be evacuated by setting fire to his room is jailed

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A homeless man who tried to set fire to his room at a Northampton night shelter was handed a four-and-a-half year prison sentence after a judge found he had 59 previous convictions since arriving in the UK.

Said Ahmed was staying at the Hope Centre in Campbell Street on March 16 this year when he started a fire in his bedroom using a lighter.

When shelter staff heard the fire alarm sound, they tried to get into the 45-year-old’s room, but he would not let them in, telling them he intended to take his own life.

The building had to be immediately evacuated while firefighters came to break Ahmed’s door down.

At Northampton Crown Court yesterday Judge Adrienne Lucking QC sentenced Ahmed to four-and-a-half years in prison for arson likely to endanger life.

“The actual risk to life depended on whether the glass (window) to your room failed,” said the judge.

“The risk was relatively low, practically speaking,.

“But the reality is you took a risk with other people’s lives.

“It is impossible to say as fire is a very difficult creature to control once it is let loose.”

The court heard how Somalian national Ahmed had racked up 59 offences since entering the UK in 2005, most of which were described as “low level” and many of which involved him not complying with probation officers.

“You are not co-operating with and have not intended to co-operated with the probation service,” the judge added.

“It is clear that you had no wish to do so.

“You simply want to be sentenced.”

However judge Lucking said Ahmed was known to suffer from post-traumatic stress following an experience he had in Somalia before coming to the UK.

He will serve at least half of the sentence in prison and the remainder on licence.

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