Arson accused was '˜dragged to safety after running back into blaze'

A woman accused of setting fire to her home was dragged to safety after running back into the blaze, the High Court heard today.

Wednesday, 30th November 2016, 2:11 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 4:42 pm

Prosecutors claimed a passing motorist then had to hold Annie Robinson amid further attempts to return to the smoke-filled apartment in Larne, Co Antrim.

Details emerged as Robinson was granted bail on a charge of arson endangering life.

The 38-year-old was arrested after allegedly torching her flat at Blackthorn Rise in the town on October 14.

Police and fire crews found her outside the apartment block after relatives said she was threatening to burn her home down, the court heard.

Two living room sofas had been completely destroyed, while the rest of the property was badly smoke damaged.

Natalie Pinkerton, prosecuting, said police believe the blaze would have spread to rest of the building if it hadn’t been extinguished.

She also revealed that a witness driving past the scene claims he saw Robinson sitting on her front drive, drinking from a glass.

He described the property as being full of smoke, and asking her if anyone else was inside.

At that point a neighbour was said to have exited the apartments.

Mr Justice Colton was told Robinson then got up and ran back into her home.

The witness said he could hear a window smashing from the heat, but was unable to go in because of the smoke.

However, around 30 seconds later he managed to see Robinson in the hallway underneath the smoke.

Ms Pinkerton said the man was then able to reach in and pull her out.

“He had to detain her as she was trying to get back into the house,” she added.

Opposing bail, the barrister argued the accused posed a serious risk to herself and the public.

Defence counsel indicated his client may make limited admissions about starting the fire, but will be denying any intent to endanger life.

He described her as a woman with mental health problems who indulges in bouts of binge drinking.

The court was told Robinson had been “out of her mind” on vodka before allegedly setting fire to the sofa.

Granting bail, Mr Justice Colton described it as a “troubling” case.

He ruled that Robinson could be released to live with her mother on conditions including a complete alcohol ban and ordered her to make an appointment with her GP.