A man has been jailed after setting fire to a wheelie bin outside the home of a wheelchair-bound woman in Stockport, endangering her life.
The 61-year-old disabled woman was only saved thanks to the intervention of her dog, who alerted her to the fire enabling her to bang on the wall so that neighbours could summon help.
James Bellamy (born 23/06/1993), of Edmund Close, Heaton Norris, Stockport, was found guilty of arson with intent to endanger life following a trial.
Today, 26 January 2015, Bellamy was sentenced to seven years in prison at Minshull Street Crown Court.
At about 5am on 27 October 2013, police were called to Short Street, Heaton Norris, Stockport, following reports of a wheelie bin fire outside the home of the 61-year-old woman.
A wheelie bin had been pushed against the front door of the bungalow and set alight, eventually enveloping the front of the bungalow.
Fortunately, the woman’s dog saw the flames and began barking, waking the woman and giving her time to bang on the wall of her property so that neighbours could call for help, enabling the victim to be rescued before she could suffer any serious injuries.
Fire investigators later found the seat of the fear was close to the main gas outlet, which could have caused the entire bungalow to explode.
During the court case, it emerged that Bellamy watched the fire for several minutes before he fled the scene. It was also established that he had a fascination with fire and arson, as during a previous arrest in 2009 officers found he had penned self-written newspaper articles about fire.
Detective Constable Jim Wilson said: “Arson is a notoriously difficult crime to detect. Officers spent months investigating a series of arson attacks in the Heaton Norris area before making a crucial breakthrough via footage from a surveillance camera which led us to Bellamy.
“We know from a previous investigation this is a man who has a morbid and unhealthy obsession with fire and arson, and during our enquiries into this incident we found that Google searches had been made from his mobile phone for ‘woman dies in Heaton Norris fire’.
“Thankfully, that was not the case, although you can only imagine just how frightened this woman must have been, confined to a wheelchair and confronted by flames enveloping her home.
“It is sheer good fortune that the woman was not killed, and without her loyal dog, she almost certainly would have lost her life.
“Since Bellamy’s arrest, this spate of heinous offences has ceased in the Heaton Norris area. A huge amount of investigation and police resources were put into identifying Bellamy as the arsonist but I believe this was proportionate bearing in mind the consequences of Bellamy remaining on the streets.
“I am glad Bellamy will not have the opportunity to continue his dangerous offending and I believe Stockport is now a safer place with him behind bars.”