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Arsonist saved residents from Rectory House Care Home in Harrietsham

When fire broke out in a Harrietsham residential care home, care assistant Matthew Turl acted like a hero.

The 23-year-old helped raise the alarm before making sure all of the very vulnerable residents living at the Rectory House Care Home, Rectory Road were all safe.

Matthew Turl(16377657)
Matthew Turl(16377657)

He even carried one of the residents to safety before returning to drag another out of the burning building, needing oxygen after his heroics.

But his behaviour raised concerns among his co-workers and eventually Turl admitted he was the firebug after having thoughts of committing suicide.

Now Turl, of Emsworth Grove, Maidstone has been jailed for two years and eight months after admitting reckless arson.

Defence lawyer Kerry Wait told Maidstone Crown Court that Turl "is not a man wallowing in self pity and had helped residents escape the fire."

Prosecutor Amy Nicholson said that on Saturday May 12, Turl was employed by Endurance Care Ltd, the the company running the home for very vulnerable men over the age of 65

She said: "He was working with a colleague when he set fire to the premises in one of the storerooms in the top floor, which destroyed the room and also caused a water leak.

"That resulted in all the electricity to the building being shut off.

"At the time there were seven residents in the Georgian property, all who had mental difficulties or health issues, including people suffering from dementia.

"All required a lot of time and help, some requiring up to 14 hours of help each day."

The court heard that just before 9pm the fire alarm sounded with Turl and his colleague working together to locate the fire and evacuate the residents.

"The defendant had in fact called the fire brigade but of course, the defendant knew where the fire was having started it. But he maintained a charade.

"All the residents were got out safely including one who was carried down stairs by the defendant and another resident was dragged to safety."

Both Turl and his colleague later needed oxygen treatment in the back of an ambulance and later taken to hospital.

The prosecutor said one of the residents also suffered from anxiety because of what had happened.

It was then his employers and co-workers were concerned about Turl's behaviour and he was arrested and taken to the police station.

Mrs Nicholson added: "He then confessed to having started the fire by lighting toilet paper tissues and throwing them onto a sofa saying he had serious mental health difficulties and that day felt suicidal.

"He saw the fire had taken hold and changed his mind and tried to stamp it out but it had got too great a hold and was out of control. He then went down stairs and sat until the fire alarm went off."

Fire experts said the blaze had posed a significant risk and could have "compromised" escape routes for the vulnerable victims.

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