A MAN set fire to his home during an hours-long stand-off with police after he was asked to move to a smaller property following the death of his mother.  

Robert Ward had lived with his mum in a three-bedroom council home on Jury Lane in Haverfordwest, prosecutor Georgia Donohue told Swansea Crown Court.

Following his mother’s death, Pembrokeshire County Council asked Ward to move in to a smaller property.

On October 21, a neighbour called the police at around 4pm after hearing an argument between the defendant and his sister where Ward threatened to take his own life.

Officers went to conduct a welfare check, but Ward had barricaded himself inside the property and told officers he had booby trapped the house and was in possession of jerry cans and knives.

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A police negotiator was called and there was stand-off lasting several hours. Ward told the police there were gas bottles behind the front door and that he intended to take his own life.

Neighbouring properties were evacuated and the property’s gas and electricity was switched off. At around half past midnight, officers entered the property.

Ms Donohue said that a fire had been started inside the house, and one of the officers saw something being thrown by Ward which then ignited.

Two officers went after Ward, but he threw “a substance” over them which they believed was accelerant. It was unclear if it was, but Ward later said it was water.

Firefighters were able to put out the fire within around 15 minutes.

Ward retreated to the loft, where he was arrested at 1.06am appearing to be in the process of trying to take his own life. He also had “significant burns” to his hands and body, and was taken to Morriston Hospital.

“In interview he said he intended to kill himself as he didn’t want to be evicted,” Ms Donohue said.

“He said he was extremely sorry for his actions and didn’t intent to harm [the officers].”

The court heard that £4,819.15 of damage was caused to the property.

Ward, 56, has three previous convictions for five offences – the most recent being in 2003. He was convicted for arson in 1983.

The case had been adjourned after concerns were raised over whether Ward was fit to enter pleas or stand trial. When it was determined that he was, he pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life is endangered, affray, and two counts of assaulting emergency workers.

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“It’s a sad background. If you live in a house for a period of time, it becomes more than that,” said Dyfed Thomas, in mitigation.

“It’s clear that there is a relevance to the mental health background here.

“Clearly there was, in his own mind, issues of self-harm arising.”

Mr Thomas admitted Ward likely faced “a significant sentence”.

Judge Geraint Walters said the case had a “complex background” and that Ward had suffered with his mental health “for many years”.

“It’s not the acts of a person in his own mind, in a right mind,” he said.

“You devised a very elaborate plot to demonstrate you were prepared to stop at nothing in order to stay in the home that meant so much to you.

“In many respects, you will need a lot of support when you are released from this prison sentence to ensure this does not happen again.”

He sentenced Ward to a total of three years and four months in prison.