Jail for asylum seeker who set fire to his new G4S home
An asylum seeker who set his emergency housing alight because “it looked like a prison cell” is now sampling the real thing.
Ahmed Saleh was “angry, sad and frustrated” when moved from a hostel to one of the three bedrooms in a flat owned and managed by G4S above a parade of shops at West Smethwick Precinct in Smethwick on May 10, a judge heard.
“The defendant made it clear to the welfare officer who showed him the accommodation that he did not want to be there,” said Mr Antoine Muller, prosecuting, who continued: “He was not happy and wanted to be returned to the hostel.
“He said the bedroom was no good, looked like a prison cell and he wanted to live alone.
“The welfare officer tried to make him more comfortable by providing a bedding pack,” Mr Muller added.
Within 10 minutes of the welfare officer leaving the scene there was a report that the 24-year-old defendant’s bedroom was on fire.
The blaze started when he set light to the bedding and caused £2,000 worth of damage to the property.
Mr Muller said the fire had been set in anger to render the room uninhabitable because the defendant did not want to live there.
Saleh spent a year travelling overland to this country after fleeing from Iraq and Mr Yogain Chandarana, who represented him, maintained: “He was frustrated, sad and angry at being moved, begged to be taken back to the hostel and said he would rather sleep in the street than the room he had been given.
“Then, in a moment of madness, he set light to the bedding that had just been given to him,” Mr Chandarana added.
“He admits not giving a thought to other people who might have been put in danger and accepts that his behaviour was reckless.”
Saleh pleaded guilty to committing arson when reckless as to whether life was endangered and was jailed for 15 months.
Judge Dean Kershaw told him: “You said you would rather sleep on the streets and then made a conscious decision to go back into the bedroom and set it alight.
“You knew there was a risk of harm to others and took it.
“This was an act of revenge for not getting what you wanted.”
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