Woman given community payback order after admitting wilful fire-raising

Dumbarton Sheriff Court

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A woman who has been behind bars for more than seven months after setting fire to the common close in an Oban block of flats has been told she will not have to spend any more time in custody.

Jacinta Maclean-Black set fire to a pile of clothes and footwear outside a flat in the Miller Road block, where she previously lived, on April 1.

The fire quickly spread to the close itself, endangering the lives of people living in the block.

But when she appeared in court for sentencing on Friday, the 24-year-old was told she would be spared any further time in jail because she had already served the equivalent of a significant custodial sentence.

Maclean-Black poured accelerant over the items, which were piled outside a flat in the block occupied by two people, and set light to them.

As well as putting the lives of those in the flat, and the whole block, at risk, the fire also left the common close, flats within the block and the electricity supply badly damaged, as well as the clothes and footwear destroyed.

As well as a charge of wilful fire-raising to the endangerment of life, Maclean-Black also admitted a separate charge of putting the lives of two young children at risk as a result of her actions.

At a hearing at Dumbarton Sheriff Court on Friday, Maclean-Black’s solicitor said his client, who he described as an inmate at Greenock prison, was ‘someone who would benefit from a community-based order’.

Referring to the contents of a background report on his client, Maclean-Black’s lawyer said social workers were ‘very positive and optimistic for the future of this young lady’.

He told Sheriff William Gallacher: ‘There has been a very substantial improvement in this young woman – it really is night and day compared to April 2, when she was first remanded.’

The lawyer said Maclean-Black planned to move to the Falkirk area on her release from custody, and said support and accommodation would be available for her there.

He continued: ‘She has suffered with mental health issues and has struggled without support.

‘These issues have now been diagnosed. She is very well aware of the conditions a community-based order would impose, and of the consequences of it being breached.’

Sheriff Gallacher imposed a community payback order which will see Maclean-Black supervised by social workers for 30 months.

He also made it a specific conduct requirement for Maclean-Black to attend any mental health treatment required of her by her supervisor or clinicians.

The sheriff said: ‘I made plain to you on a previous occasion my horror at what you had done, and at the potential impact of that on those around you.

‘You have now served the equivalent of a significant custodial sentence, and I’m satisfied that I do not require to extend that further.

‘Do not make the mistake of thinking that if you don’t comply with this order, it will be treated as a minor matter.

‘If you do not, or you are seen to be posing a risk to other people, the risk to you is that a very significant custodial sentence will be imposed.’

Maclean-Black’s punishment will be monitored at Falkirk Sheriff Court, where a review hearing will be held on January 31, 2020.