A deliberately-started blaze at a Fife council flat could have had “fatal consequences” for neighbours, a court has heard.
Paul Erskine set fire to somebody else’s property in Macindoe Crescent, Kirkcaldy, while under the influence on May 8, last year.
The 34-year-old’s solicitor told Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court that the blaze begin on the landing, inside the flat’s front door.
It quickly spread, causing damage to carpets, skirting boards and decorations which all had to be replaced.
Defence agent Joe Mooney explained that the resident who lived there at the time is now back living in the property.
“There was no structural damage apart from the smell,” he said.
“I imagine it was pretty unbearable.”
Mr Mooney said his client thought he had put the fire out.
“He should never have started it in the first place,” he said.
“It’s clear from his account he was experiencing problems.
“It could have had serious fatal consequences for neighbours.
“We could have been going to funerals.
“It’s just took off.”
He said: “He was a guest in that house. He’s invited there.
“With anything like this, custody has got to be considered. He’s got to be punished for it.”
Erskine, who has surveying experience and is currently involved in a kit house project in Chryston, North Lanarkshire, was spared imprisonment by Sheriff Grant McCulloch.
The sheriff told tearful Erskine: “Many times, people set fire to things for the purpose of causing damage to others and that’s the reason for it here.
“Through substance abuse at the time, you were trying to do damage to yourself.
“You must understand how reckless and dangerous it was.”
He added: “It could have been a disaster, an absolute horrendous disaster.
“We’re in the fortunate position that didn’t happen.
“Let’s get back to the old Paul Erskine. You’ve got to change back to something better.”
As an alternative to custody, the sheriff placed Erskine under supervision for two years and handed him 200 hours of unpaid work.
He also instructed Erskine, of Lismore Avenue, to pay £750 in compensation.”