A WOMAN who snapped under stress set fire to her semi-detached home in a "cry for help", a court heard. Lorna Dennett piled clothing onto a sofa before touching a lighter to it after work and the recent death of her father became too much for her.
She then sent a text message to her partner – who shared the house on South Bank Avenue, Marton, with her and was in bed at the time-to tell him what she had done.
He raced downstairs to douse the flames and rang the fire brigade to help clear the property of smoke following the incident at 3.30am on March 7.
The 45-year-old later admitted arson being reckless whether life would be endangered.
Kirsten McAteer, prosecuting at Preston Crown Court, said Dennett's partner had been woken by a text message from the defendant, saying she had set a fire in the lounge. He went downstairs and dealt with it, using water from the kitchen.
A fire investigation concluded that it had been deliberately started.
Miss McAteer added: "When asked by police why she did it, the defendant said it was a cry for help following some recent bereavements, arguments with her partner and a recent burglary at the house.
"She said she had suffered a breakdown around five weeks earlier and was being given medication for anxiety and depression."
Dennett said the only person she had intended to harm was herself and she had told her partner by text and phone call what she was doing so he would have the chance to leave and alert neighbours.
Fraser Livesey, defending, told the court: "Cries for help don't come much more classic than this.
"I am asking the court to pass either a suspended sentence or a community order. She's not somebody who is likely to carry on setting fires.
"This is plainly a lady who, having made a cry for help, is going to grasp any help offered to her with both hands."
The court was told she had spent nearly six months on remand, which was the equivalent of around 12 months jail.
Passing sentence, Judge Michael Byrne told the defendant: "The result of the fire wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been. But there is a possibility that such incidents can get out of control."
Dennett was given 12 months jail, suspended for two years, with two years supervision.