Woman admits to starting flat blaze

York Crown Court
York Crown Court

A SCARBOROUGH woman rescued from a burning flat has admitted deliberately setting fire to the property.

Elaine White, 42, pleaded guilty to being reckless after the fire in Northstead Flats, in Long Walk, Northstead, earlier this month.

White, who was dramatically rescued by two eye-witnesses, was originally charged with arson but admitted the lesser offence when she appeared at York Crown Court.

The court heard White set fire to her home after locking herself in.

She was dragged to safety by window cleaner Ryan Burns, 27, and Jim Murphy, 58, who used a set of ladders to get into the property through an open window.

They then help fire crews carry the woman to safety.

Prosecuting, Alan Mitcheson, told the court White had been sent by Scarborough magistrates on the original indictment, but, after reviewing the case, he felt that the only life which she had intending harming was her own.

Defending, Andrew Semple, said White, who has a previous record of affray committed last year, had no matters of arson or mental illness in her history.

The case was adjourned for the preparation of both a pre-sentence and a psychiatric report.

The Recorder of York, Judge Stephen Ashurst, told White he knew from the case papers that she had been “very upset” about her situation at the time of starting the fire in the flat, which is owned by Yorkshire Coast Homes.

He said a medical report was required so that the court could consider all the risk factors involved.

However, he heard from Mr Semple that, if the case was to be disposed of by way of a sentence under the Health Act, a further period of adjournment may be needed.

White was remanded in custody with the case adjourned until October.

Speaking after the incident, Paul Burnett, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue crew manager, praised the actions of Mr Burns and Mr Murphy.

He said: “It is very commendable that they have gone and acted the way that they have.

“They have both shown incredible bravery in their actions.

“However, we would always recommend that if a fire does start, in every instance, call the fire service rather than trying to deal with the situation yourself.”

Yorkshire Coast Homes confirmed the fire caused damage to the interior of the flat which had to be boarded up.