A man who, in the early hours set fire to net curtains in a bedroom of the home where he lived has been jailed for 32 months.

Christopher Abbott admitted arson and was cleared by a jury in April of the more serious charge of arson with intent to endanger life.

Abbott, 37, who at the time of the fire in December last year lived at Fairhome Residential Home in Fairy Road, Wrexham, was told that it had been an incredibly dangerous thing to do.

Judge Rowlands said the case had previously been adjourned by another judge for a further psychiatric report but there had been long delays of five months and no report had been prepared.

He said he had to remain faithful to the jury verdict that he had not intended to endanger life and with the agreement of the prosecution and defence he had decided to proceed to sentence after reading two other psychiatric reports.

Abbott, he said, had been in custody since December.

Judge Rowland said that on December 16 last year the defendant returned to the home drunk and was asked to leave.

At 11.30pm he returned, climbed scaffolding and started to throw items. Police were called, staff took him back in but in the early hours the defendant started a fire in a ground floor bedroom.

The judge said that the man asleep in that room had left the window open.

He awoke to find the net curtains ablaze and he saw the defendant outside having a cigarette.

That resident was able to put the fire out but suffered a minor injury in doing so.

“It was an incredibly dangerous thing that you did,” the judge said.

“It was sheer good luck that the man woke up and raised the alarm, otherwise the consequences could have been very serious indeed.”

Judge Rowlands said he had read two psychiatric reports.

The defendant clearly had difficulties but they were not helped by the fact that he had drunk alcohol. He had pleaded guilty and was progressing well in custody.

Defending barrister James Coutts said his client had put his time in custody to good use.

He was working in a paint shop and in view of his progress he had been moved to an enhanced wing with additional privileges.

The defendant had received support from the mental health services.

That night he had consumed a significant amount of alcohol but he now understood that with his background and difficulties he had with his personality that to take alcohol to any extent would be “a recipe for disaster.”

The jury heard that before the incident Abbott climbed scaffolding, threw bricks and said: “I am going to burn this house down.”

Prosecuting barrister Anna Price said the defendant set fire to curtains late at night in the room of a sleeping resident when there were 23 residents and additional staff on the premises.

When he returned to the home drunk, he was told to leave and to come back when he had sobered up.

He was initially compliant, but later allegedly became aggressive with staff on the phone and was again told that he was not welcome until he had sobered up.

Miss Price told the jury: “He returned in an intoxicated state, climbed some scaffolding and was shouting that he was going to smash the place up.

“He threw bricks and the police became involved.”

They talked him down from the scaffolding and requested that staff take him in despite the fact that he had been drinking.

He continued to be aggressive and, at one point, it was alleged that he stood on the stairs and said: “I am going to burn this house down.”

Abbott then agreed to go to bed, but another resident asleep in a ground floor room was woken at 2am by the sound of a dripping noise.

He saw that the net curtains at the end of the bed were on fire.

“He jumped up and put the fire out with his hands,” said Miss Price.

As he was trying to extinguish the flames, he saw the defendant outside. Staff could smell smoke coming from the room and went in to investigate, the police arrived and the defendant left “pretty promptly”.

He returned and it was alleged that he told one member of staff: “See, I told you I would not get caught.”

A fire officer concluded that the fire had been started deliberately.