Man jailed for endangering lives
By Court reporter | 21st June 2019
A former heroin addict has been jailed for four years today for setting fire to his room in a Matson hostel.
Ian Girdlestone, 47, of Gambier Parry Gardens, Gloucester was found guilty at the city crown court of arson being reckless whether life was endangered.
A jury of nine women and three men took just two hours and 23 minutes to reach their unanimous verdict at the end of a four day trial.
The court heard that on February 20, last year Girdlestone had an argument about a no smoking rule at his former home in Taylor House, Matson so "to prove a point" he set fire to bedding in his own room.
Said His Honour Judge Michael Cullum: "You set fire to your bed, left the room, locked the door and left the building.
"You did this to prove a point after you had an argument with one of the members of staff about a recent no smoking rule.
"The hostel was evacuated and three others on your floor were put in particular danger.
"This was an exceptionally reckless act which risked the lives of others. It was callous of you to leave the property."
Defending lawyer Steve Young said that his client had a history of drug addiction and once had a heroin habit.
"He lit the fire to make a point and not as an act of revenge," said Mr Young.
"It is a matter of interest that he ensured that the fire door to the rest of his floor was closed, so that the fire would not spread."
Earlier the court heard that CCTV coverage in the building showed the defendant in the corridor outside his room at 9.48pm. The fire alarm went off at 10pm and he was seen leaving his room at 10.07pm.
Girdlestone was found in possession of a can of butane gas after the blaze and prosecuting barrister Anjali Gohil said that may have been used to start the fire.
However the use of an accelerant to start the fire was not proved during the trial.
Girdlestone's mother watched from the public gallery of Courtroom Two as her son was taken down to begin his four-year sentence.
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