Published: 06:00, 27 August 2021
| Updated: 12:28, 27 August 2021
A cannabis addict who tried torching his block of flats with children inside during lockdown has been jailed.
Andrew Page ignited his kitchen with a makeshift bomb packed in his oven while “armed to the teeth” with knives in Dover, in February.
But the-30-year-old extinguished the blaze, preventing it spreading to five homes in the same Shooter’s Hill block, after neighbours were alerted.
Page has now been jailed at Canterbury Crown Court for four years, with a further two to be spent on licence.
He had pleaded guilty to arson with recklessness as to whether life was endangered.
He also pleaded guilty to four counts of possessing a bladed article.
The court heard Page became isolated from friends and family during the pandemic, then accelerated his cannabis and alcohol use, exacerbating existing mental health difficulties.
Healthcare experts deemed him “fit to leave (hospital) but requiring a treatment plan,” prosecutor Craig Evans explained.
But the next day Page armed himself with four knives and packed clothes into his kitchen units, and aerosols, lighter fluid and lightbulb filaments into his microwave.
He then torched the kitchen, however, neighbour Russell Clark saw fire in the window and rushed to Page’s aid.
“Mr Clark ran inside the block of flats and tried getting the defendant’s attention,” Mr Evans continued.
“He could see Mr Page running around repeatedly swearing.”
“The court can treat this as an isolated incident by a man suffering a mental breakdown..."
Page managed to put out the fire before it spread to the five connecting flats with some containing children, the court heard.
When police arrested Page he was found to be carrying four knives, including a hunter’s blade.
Page has since been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia while on remand at HMP Elmley, Mr Evans said.
A judge rejected Page’s lawyer’s suggestion he could be released back into the community with the right treatment plan, having spent about six months on remand.
James Burke told the court his client became “isolated, self medicating, exacerbated by lockdown.”
“The court can treat this as an isolated incident by a man suffering a mental breakdown.
“It happened during the pandemic, he felt isolated from support by friends and family,” he added.
“It’s accepted his own decision to smoke cannabis proceeding this clearly did not help, to put it mildly, but he had realised himself, and began to abstain.”
But judge Simon James told Page though he “greatly sympathises with his issues” he still poses a “significant risk” to the public.
Page “effectively made a bomb” and “armed yourself to the teeth with weapons,”Judge James explained.
“You set a fire in the kitchen of your flat, thereby not only putting your life in danger, but also other residents including a number of children.”
Page, of previous good character, will serve four years in custody before being considered for parole.