Mother guilty of attempted arson at Swiss Cottage flat where seven-year-old daughter slept

Emergency services were called to the scene

Emergency services were called to the scene - Credit: Getty Images

A mother has been found guilty of attempted arson whilst being reckless after starting a fire at her Swiss Cottage flat where her seven-year-old daughter lay sleeping.

The little girl had to be treated for severe and “painful” burns to her feet following the blaze on August 25 last year, Blackfriars Crown Court had heard.

The teacher, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was convicted by a jury at Blackfriars Crown Court this morning (Monday).

During the week-long trial the court had heard how the 43-year-old, who had recently separated from her husband, mailed a suicide note before taking sedatives and pouring petrol on the carpet of a bedroom before the fire broke out in the early hours of last August 25.

Mr Christopher Amis, prosecuting, had said: “She set her flat ablaze, knowing that her daughter was in it and intending to endanger both her own and her daughter’s life.”

But as the fire raged in her Swiss Cottage home, she changed her mind “and then doused the flames with whatever she could find”,

However by then her daughter had already suffered severe burns to her feet, he said.

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Fireman later discovered the little girl in a small bedroom “crying with pain and fright” the jury heard.

The youngster had to be treated at the Royal Free Hospital for “nasty, painful burns to her feet and for smoke inhalation,” said Mr Amis.

Police later found an email on the mother’s laptop that she had written that afternoon in which she said that “she had no more strength to fight”.

She wrote that her child “will not suffer, she will just go to bed as she does every day” and “I am so sorry I had to do this to her... so I will take her with me”.

The mother told the court she had been desperate after recently separating from her abusive husband, arguing with her teenage son and being threatened with eviction from her flat.

She said she changed her mind after watching her daughter sleep and accidentally started the blaze by lighting a cigarette.

The jury found her guilty of one charge of attempted arson whilst being reckless but cleared her of three other charges: arson with intent to endanger life, attempted arson with intent to endanger life and arson whilst being reckless. The teacher had denied all charges.

She will be sentenced on April 1.

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