Accused told police he
set fire to kill himself

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A judge said he wants to consider a medical report to assess whether a Portstewart man, who allegedly set fire to a property in a bid to kill himself, is fit to be freed on bail.

District Judge Liam McNally was speaking at Coleraine Magistrates Court where Gary Lewis (31), of no fixed abode, is charged with arson endangering life.

It is alleged that on September 30 this year he set fire to 13 Upper Heathmount, Portstewart, belonging to PMC Properties, intending to damage the property or being reckless as to whether it would be damaged or endanger the lives of occupants of adjoining
dwellings.

A police officer said Lewis had moved out of the property a couple of weeks earlier but returned and set a cushion alight on a gas hob setting the house on fire.

The accused went to Coleraine Police Station and said he had started the fire with the intention of killing himself.

Defence barrister Michael Smith said his client was heavily intoxicated when he went to the police station.

The court heard there were concerns about the defendant’s mental state and Mr Smith said Lewis had no intention of harming anybody else.

The police officer said the house adjoined other properties and his actions had been reckless.

Mr Smith said his client is a schizophrenic, suffers from depression and has other issues.

Judge McNally said he wanted to see a medical report before he grants bail as he has concerns and said the last thing he would want to do would be release him on bail and find out he had carried out what he initially set out to do.

He remanded Lewis in continuing custody until November 23 and wants to see a medical report to see if the accused is fit to be released into the community.