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Man pleads guilty to arson after setting fire to GP practice


Discriminated


A man has admitted to setting fire to a GP surgery, causing more than half a million pounds worth of damage.

The incident took place at Rikenel Health Centre, Gloucester, on 3 July 2019.

Lincoln Williams, 25, of the city, made a guilty plea to arson, being reckless that life would be endangered, at Gloucester Crown Court on Friday last week.

He had been arrested following the incident, and confined to a mental health institution, Gloucestershire Live reports.

Williams has now been assessed as mentally fit to plead.

The court heard that all patients and staff were safely evacuated, with Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service firefighters attending the scene shortly after 9.30am.

However, prosecutor Robin Shellard noted: ‘The fire caused more than half-a-million pounds worth of damage to the surgery. It caused a major inconvenience to the management and staff employed there.

‘When Mr Williams was arrested he was mentally unfit to be interviewed and was sent immediately to a mental heath institution.’

Dr Stephen Attard told the court that it was likely that Williams was experiencing symptoms of psychosis at the time of offending and for a period of time before and after.

Gloucestershire Live went onto recount how he said: ‘His mental state deteriorated the week before his offending as he was reporting that he had an infestation of lice all over his body. His sleep pattern was also affected.’

Judge Julian Lambert told Mr Williams that he was ordering additional psychological reports into his condition before sentencing him.

He said: ‘It’s going to be a difficult decision in sentencing you. Prison is a blunt instrument and, in instances like this, one that I do not like to deploy without a lot of reports into the offender’s background.

‘Locking people up with mental health conditions is not the right solution. Any sentence has to be commensurate with the offence. You have already been deprived of your liberty having been locked up in a mental health hospital.’

An interim hearing is scheduled for 9 February, but Mr Williams will be excused from attending. However, the judge has told him that between now and sentencing, he must avoid drugs and alcohol and must continue to take his medication.

It comes as last year saw an attack on Parkside Medical Centre, Buckinghamshire, when eight people, including staff and members of the public, were subject to an assault.

And in October last year, a Bristol GP practice was vandalised with ‘anti-GP’ graffiti.

In 2019, a survey of around 400 doctors showed that more than three-quarters said they had been assaulted or threatened by a patient or their relative while practising.

READERS' COMMENTS [6]

terry sullivan 19 January, 2021 6:34 pm

stick him in gaol–10 years at least.

John Graham Munro 19 January, 2021 8:39 pm

Would not surprise me if he had seen the Mental Health Team just before the incident.—–then discharged

Patrufini Duffy 19 January, 2021 11:14 pm

The GP practice, like A+E – the exposed end gutter for UK society.

David jenkins 20 January, 2021 11:18 am

” he was reporting that he had an infestation of lice all over his body.”

known as formication.

absolutely classic symptom of cocaine use, along with sleep disturbance and paranoia.

anyone think this sounds familiar ?

Saibal De 20 January, 2021 8:33 pm

Formication does not automatically make him unfit to plead or provide a get out of jail free card to the offence, therefore the juxtaposition of this clause with the matter of arson seems a tad irrational to me.

David Church 20 January, 2021 9:08 pm

Although formicating at the time of his arrest, he was not when he took the cocaine, knowing that it might make his psychotic and endanger others; so as soon as he is fit to plead, he can be led responsible for his decision to take cocaine reckless to the consequences to the lives of others.
Not only did hti incomvenience staff at the surgery, but it also caused major disruption to provision of health care to local patients! He should be held responsible for any secondary harms caused to other patients too as a result of his knowingly reckless behaviour in taking the cocaine.