Probation for woman who set fire to home

Bishop street Courthouse
Bishop street Courthouse

A woman who set fire to her home in an attempt to harm herself was ordered to spend 18 months on probation when she came before Londonderry Crown Court.

Tracey Michelle Catherine McCay (40), of Duddy’s Court, pleaded guilty to arson on August 2, last year.

The court heard the Fire and Rescue Service had been called to a fire at Trench Road. McCay had made an emergency call to report that her home was on fire and she was still in it.

Police were also called and on arrival the house was ablaze and McCay was being treated for smoke inhalation.

She was conveyed to Altnagelvin and then admitted to Gransha Hospital, where she was detained for a short period of time.

After her release she was arrested and admitted the offence, claiming she did it to harm herself. She offered to pay for the damage, estimated to be in excess of £2,500. The house is the property of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

The court heard McCay made two ‘999’ calls in the early hours of the morning. In the first she indicated she was going to set a fire and the second was to report the fire almost four hours later.

Defence counsel Sean Doherty said it was an impulsive act by his client to harm herself “following a highly stressful phase in her life”.

He said McCay did not contemplate that she could have endangered other people when she set the fire.

The barrister said McCay’s life has been marked by hardship and misfortune but this incident had been entirely out of character for her.