AN arsonist could have caused a serious risk to life when he set an aerosol can alight in a homeless hostel, a court heard.

Thomas Miles, 21, appeared for sentence at Mold Crown Court on Tuesday morning via video link from HMP Berwyn.

The defendant, of Church Street in Flint, had previously admitted an offence of arson (being reckless as to whether life was endangered) and criminal damage.

Richard Edwards, prosecuting, told the court the location of the incident was a hostel for homeless people in Flint where the defendant was a resident.

The property in question was three stories high and had ten bedrooms, as well as communal space - with staff being present round the clock.

On July 12, Miles returned to the hostel under the influence of alcohol - which was against the rules.

He then left and returned with alcohol a number of times between 5pm and 9pm before telling staff he wanted to go to another resident's room.

Miles was told not to, on the basis he was vulnerable to being supplied drugs by other residents.

The defendant then became angry after telling staff a cash machine had swallowed his bank card and went to his room, where he could be heard shouting about heroin and smashing objects.

The behaviour continued through the night, with Miles leaving the room just before 7am the next day and going out into the garden.

Staff detected the smell of smoke and found that an aerosol can with paper wrapped around it had been set alight in Miles' bathroom.

The defendant's room was by the premises' main exit - meaning the fire could have caused a serious risk to life had it spread.

The Leader: Thomas Miles (North Wales Police)Thomas Miles (North Wales Police) (Image: NWP)Windows in the bathroom and bedroom had been smashed, with Miles being captured on CCTV attempting to extinguish the fire with a hosepipe from the garden.

Oliver King, defending, said his client knew an immediate jail term was inevitable, adding: "Realistically, there's no alternative for him.

"He'd be out of the prison gates, homeless and end up either exploited or offending again.

"He has complex difficulties; autism, visual impairment and Asperger's and he has sought comfort in alcohol and drugs over the years.


"[The hostel] really wasn't suitable for his needs.

"He was in crisis and effectively wasn't allowed to mix with anyone. This got on top of him. 

"He was frustrated and the situation was a cocktail of alcohol and drugs."

Mr King described the arson as "a fairly pathetic attempt to start a fire," but conceded: "Had it taken hold, it could have been very serious indeed.

"Thankfully, it didn't."

He added given his drug intake, his client had told probation officers that "his life has probably been saved" by being sent to prison ahead of his sentencing.

The Leader:

Judge Niclas Parry told Miles: "This is a very serious matter which could have had horrible consequences.

"Ten occupants and staff. The risk doesn't bear thinking about."

Judge Parry handed down an 18-month term of immediate imprisonment.