Hengoed man set own house on fire after fiddling with gas meter
12:44pm Wednesday 6th March 2013 in News
A 47-YEAR-OLD man who set fire to his house after fiddling with his gas meter and using a lighter to see what he was doing has been given an 18- month suspended sentence.
Neal Anthony Pritchard, of Lansbury Avenue, Hengoed, pleaded guilty to arson as to whether life would be endangered at Cardiff Crown Court on January 25, and was sentenced on March 4.
On November 27 last year, police and fire services were called to Pritchard’s house in Hengoed, and evacuated four houses.
Pritchard had four visitors in the house, including his daughter.
The house sufferedsmoke damage inside, and an out building suffered fire damage, causing £200 worth of damage overall An engineer from the gas company said the official gas meter had been removed and an unauthorised meter attached in an “amateur and dangerous” way, meaning gas was escaping.
Pritchard had been trying to change his gas meter so he could avoid paying for gas Prosecutor John Probert told the court.
he also said Pritchard had been drinking at the time of the incident.
Mr Probert added it was clear Pritchard was not a “reckless fire raiser’ and that the fire was clearly not caused deliberately.
Mr Probert said: “he told police he had tried to connect the meter but it had gone wrong and caused a fire.
“He was working in the dark and used a cigarette lighter to see what he was doing. He said he did it because he had no money and he was cold.”
His defence, Eugene Egan told Mr Recorder, Jonathan Ferris that Pritchard is starting a rehabilitation course as a result of the incident.
His defence said several agencies were working together closely to help Pritchard, who is a chronic alcoholic.
Mr Egan said: “This is his last best chance to conquer this addiction. This case is so extraordinary that the court can look at rehab rather than punishment.
Recorder Mr Ferris said: “You were lucky only £200 worth of damaged was chased as no one was injured.”
Pritchard was given an 18 month suspended prison sentence and 18 month supervision order.