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Perth pensioner, 75, sparks frantic search and rescue mission after setting fire to own flat

Malcolm Wilson
Malcolm Wilson outside Perth Sheriff Court

A Perth pensioner set fire to his own flat because he was “sick of people laughing at him”, a court has heard.

Malcolm Wilson, 75, started a blaze in the bedroom of the Feus Road property and then went to sit in a nearby graveyard.

Worried neighbours, alerted by blaring smoke alarms, feared Mr Wilson was trapped inside his burning home and used tools to break down his door.

They ran inside to search the smoke-filled rooms but fled when they found no trace of the pensioner.

Perth Sheriff Court heard the blaze had caused £15,000 worth of damage to the property.

Frantic search

Wilson appeared in the dock and pled guilty to wilfully setting fire to bedding at his Feus Road flat on April 5, last year.

The fire took hold and caused damage to the walls and the interior.

Fiscal Michael Sweeney said Wilson, who now stays at Roseneath Avenue, Leicester, was renting the flat at the time.

“A neighbour was in his home at about 5.30pm when the fire alarm went off.

“He went out into the communal close. He started banging on the front door of the accused’s home.

“There was no answer from within.”

The court heard residents managed to get the door open using tools.

“Inside, they noticed flames coming from the bedroom,” said Mr Sweeney.

“Satisfied that there was no one in the flat, they went back outside and waited for the fire brigade.”

Sitting in a graveyard

Another witness spotted Wilson sitting in the cemetery.

“He went to Wilson and told him that his flat was on fire,” Mr Sweeney told the court.

Police attended at the property and were told by a fire inspector the blaze appeared to have been started deliberately.

Officers saw a burnt hole in the carpet, along with severe smoke damage to the walls.

At about 6.20pm, Wilson phoned police from the graveyard.

He told them where he was and said he had set his home on fire.

When officers arrived, he said: “I have been waiting for you.”

He added: “I set my flat on fire because I am sick of people laughing at me.”

Sheriff Alastair Brown deferred sentence until July 21.

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