Mum ordered three kids to leave house before setting it on fire while still inside | The Sun

A MUM ordered her three kids to leave their house before setting it alight while still inside, a court heard.

Cheryl Duggan was said to be struggling to cope when she started the blaze in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, last year.

The 38-year-old was rescued from the burning council-owned building and was charged with arson, reckless as to whether life endangered, ChronicleLive reports.

She was this week handed a two-year sentence, suspended for two years, at Newcastle Crown Court.

She must also carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and rehabilitation.

Duggan's actions caused more than £10,000 worth of damage to the semi-detached property, and put the lives of others at risk, it was said.


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The court heard that emergency services rushed to Friary Gardens just before 3am on October 3 to reports of a fire.

Mum-of-four Duggan, who lived with three of her kids, was there, as well as her father and a neighbour.

Rachel Glover, prosecuting, said: "The defendant's dad said his three grandchildren had gone to his home just after 2am and said their mother had told them to get out and the house would not be there when they got back.

"Firefighters were able to bring out the defendant to safety."

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Duggan admitted setting fire to soft furnishings, saying she "wanted it to be over when the kids were out".

Upon being arrested, the mum claimed she "didn't mean to hurt anyone" but wished to take her own life.

Duggan, who had been "struggling" with doing the school-run and working in a chip shop, spent a week in hospital.

The repair bill for the fire, heat and smoke damage came to £10,775.

Judge Julie Clemitson told her: "What you did caused a significant risk to the people next door, the people who arrived to try to help you and the emergency services who arrived.

"You were feeling overwhelmed by your situation and it was an extreme response to your situation.

"It's clear it was what the lay person would call a nervous breakdown in the context of depression.

"You are genuinely remorseful for your actions that morning and you were the only one to suffer physical harm."

Jane Foley, defending, described the case as "very sad", adding that her client "couldn't see a way out".

"She saw her responsibilities as enormous and was not able to see the sense in looking for help," she said.

"She couldn't find a job that would allow her to spend the time she wanted with her children.

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"This incident was a build up of stress, guilt and low mood, coupled with arguments she had with several others and possibly use of alcohol, which led to her experiencing suicidal thoughts.

"This was out of character. She loves her children with all her heart."

If you are affected by any of the issues raised in this article, please call the Samaritans for free on 116123.

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