Peterborough woman jailed for arson for second time in 12 months

Jenny Towell

Jenny Towell

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A Peterborough woman has been jailed for arson after setting fire to her next door neighbour’s bin.

Jenny Towell was locked up for 20 months after lighting paper and cardboard in the brown wheelie bin on Park Road in Peterborough.

It is the second time the 39-year-old has been jailed for arson in the space of 12 months.

Judge Peter Murphy, sentencing, said: “Arson is a serious matter. The danger in addition to the damage of the property is that someone will be injured, or in a serious case, killed.

“There was no imminent risk in this case, but on another day, or if circumstances had been different, there could have been.”

He added: “The public must be protected from your actions.”

Peterborough Crown Court was told that Towell had been sentenced to one year in prison in April last year after pleading guilty to causing a number of fires in Swale Avenue, Peterborough.

She was released on licence in June, and moved into a property in Park Road.

When a number of fires were noticed in the area, police officers set up CCTV cameras to catch the culprit, and on November 22 the cameras captured Towell using a lighter to set the fire at 6.50pm.

The court heard Towell was living in a house of multiple occupation (HMO), and the neighbouring property was also a HMO.

Defending, Roy James said: “The pre-sentence reports suggest she is a sad, lonely individual who has suffered from depression.
“She is also shy and lacking in confidence.

“While other fires were mentioned, no additional charges are forthcoming against the defendant.

“While on licence she said police kept knocking on her door in the early hours of the morning. She said she wanted to give the police a reason to keep checking on her.”

Judge Murphy said: “The reason given is not acceptable. The police were just doing their job.

“What makes this more serious is that you were still on licence for exactly the same offence. This suggests you had not learnt that this is the type of offence courts cannot tolerate.

“I accept that you are a lone wolf and you have suffered depression, but these are things that afflict many people in society, and does not give a reason for arson.”

Detective Constable Steve Ward, who investigated, said: “This fire could have spread to the property but was thankfully seen early. Towell has clearly not learned her lesson after being jailed for the Swale Avenue arson.

“Arson is potentially lethal and is treated very seriously by ourselves, the courts and the fire service.”

Towell had pleaded guilty to arson reckless as to whether life was endangered at a previous court hearing.