Man set fire to bed at YMCA in Lincoln before he was due to be evicted

A man set fire to his accommodation just 24 hours before he was due to be evicted, a jury at Lincoln Crown Court was told.

Christopher Duff used a lighter to set light to bedding in his room at an annex of the YMCA in St Rumbold Street, Lincoln.

Jonathan Dunne, prosecuting, said that Duff then left the room and staff were alerted when the blaze activated fire alarms.

Staff at the building discovered three feet high flames and thick smoke when they entered Duff’s room.

Firefighters arrived within minutes and the blaze was put out. No-one was injured in the incident.

Mr Dunne said that Duff moved into his room at the YMCA just weeks earlier from a night shelter.

“He was a vulnerable individual and they were prepared to give him accommodation. He had a room in a small unit of four bedrooms known as River View where they house those residents who are more vulnerable than others.

“He became a resident in the first week or so of June 2017 but his behaviour was erratic and difficult. The YMCA determined they were going to evict Mr Duff on July 5.”

Mr Dunne said that a member of staff went to Duff’s room on July 4 and told him the housing manager wanted to speak to him.

Duff said he would take a shower first and the member of staff left.

Soon afterwards the fire alarms went off and staff went to investigate.

The blaze was discovered and firefighters arrived within 10 minutes and put it out.

Mr Dunne said: “Duff was seen outside the building with soot on his face and a cigarette lighter in his pocket. There was only one suspect for this fire setting and that is Mr Duff.”

Duff, 25, formerly of St Rumbold Street, Lincoln, faced a charge of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered as a result of the incident on the afternoon of July 4, 2017.

Judge Simon Hirst earlier ruled that Duff was unfit to enter a plea to the charge because of his mental health problems.

Duff was not present in court for the short trial and no evidence was called on his behalf.

The court was told he suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and was not well enough to attend.

A jury took just 15 minutes to deliver a verdict that he committed the offence.

After the verdict he was remanded in custody to await sentence at a later date.