Sentence adjourned at Leeds Crown Court for the Wakefield woman who set fire to her own home

Leeds Crown Court
Leeds Crown Court

A judge has adjourned sentencing of a Wakefield woman to obtain psychiatric reports after she set fire to her husband's bedroom causing more than £27,000 worth of damage.

Judge James Spencer QC asked defence barrister Lydia Carroll for evidence from a doctor on her state of mind before he could proceed with sentencing Dawn Axe at Leeds Crown Court this morning.

He said: "I do not feel comfortable proceeding to sentence without some proper evidence to back it up. What I want is a psychiatric report prepared by a psychiatrist who can assimilate this information.

"I do not want to send this woman to prison when she ought to be going to hospital and I don't want to sentence in an inappropriate way".

He adjourned the case to allow for the assessment to be made and it is expected sentencing will now be in December.

Earlier the court had heard that on April 4, 2017 Axe's husband, Alan Cowell, had called police and housing officers to the home due to concerns about her mental health.

After they had left the council terraced house, on Minsthorpe Lane in South Elmsall, the defendant went upstairs and placed cds, dvds, wooden drawers and clothing behind the door of Mr Cowell's bedroom and "deliberately started a fire" to the items with a naked flame.

Mr Cowell was in the living room downstairs with his son Michael Evans, aged 30 from a previous relationship, and when they heard the sound of the crackling flames went to investigate. Mr Cowell collapsed on the landing as Mr Evans tried to extinguish the fire with a garden hose.

Emergency services were called and two fire-fighters wearing breathing apparatus put out the fire. Two gas canisters for Mr Cowell's air rifle were in the bedroom but didn't explode.

Axe, who sobbed in court while the events of that day were read out, escaped by jumping through a window to the ground below and sustained serious leg injuries. She was taken to hospital and arrested.

The court heard that the repair bill was £27, 582.10 and that Wakefield Council also had to pay a £5,000 excess.

Axe had pleaded guilty to arson reckless as to whether life would be endangered at an earlier hearing.

Martin Robertshaw for the prosecution said: "Throughout interview she denied starting the fire deliberately and claimed that it was an accident resulting from a cigarette end. That is the stand that she has taken throughout the interview."

Judge Spencer adjourned the case during the defence brief for further reports. It is set to resume in December.