Man charged over charity shop blaze

Friday 21 December 2012 Updated: 24/12 11:48

A MAN accused of throwing home-made bombs at firefighters who had turned up to tackle a blaze in a charity shop may be mentally unfit to stand trial, a judge has revealed.

Paul Smythe had been due to appear at Warwick Crown Court for a plea and case management hearing on a number of arson charges.

But the 45-year-old of Bruce Road in Radford was not taken to the court after being transferred from prison to the Reaside secure psychiatric unit in Birmingham.

Smythe faces three charges of arson with intent to endanger life following an alleged arson attack at the Age UK charity shop in Jubilee Crescent, Coventry, in the early hours of May 14.

Arson

It is alleged he started fires in the shop, destroying about £10,000 worth of stock and forcing the shop to close for 17 weeks with intent to endanger the lives of Dean O’Grady and his family in the flat above the shop.

He is also accused of starting fires intending to endanger the lives of two of the firefighters who turned up to tackle the blaze at 4.30am.

It has been said he threw home-made fire bombs using jam jars filled with white spirit at the firemen.

Smythe also faces three alternative charges of arson being reckless whether lives would be endangered.

He is also charged with having articles, the jars of white spirit, with intent to destroy or damage the Age UK shop which he knew was likely to also endanger lives, and an alternative charge of having them simply to cause damage.

And Smythe faces two final charges of possessing offensive weapons, knives and a hammer, in a public place.

Judge Parker adjourned the case for a hearing in the New Year on whether Smythe is mentally fit to enter pleas to the charges, at which a judge will consider evidence from two psychiatrists who have examined him.

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