Submariner's arson at flat was 'an act of drunken stupidity'
A SUBMARINER set fire to the front door of a man in an "act of drunken stupidity", a court heard.
Thomas Rooks, aged 25, pushed lit toilet paper into the flat of the fellow sailor after a night out, Plymouth Crown Court was told.
A judge heard a fire marshal who heard an alarm found 2ft flames coming from the door, but managed to extinguish the blaze.
Rooks, of Trevol Road, Torpoint, admitted arson reckless as to whether life was endangered on June 22.
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Judge Paul Darlow, after hearing references from officers who had served with Rooks on HMS Tireless, gave him a suspended prison sentence.
David Gittins, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said the fire marshal at Latitude 52 flats in Albert Road, Devonport, heard the alarm at 2.30am.
He said he managed to put out the blaze with damage limited to the wooden door and floor before the arrival of fire crews. A rude word had been carved into the door.
Mr Gittins said the occupant was out at the time but could have been trapped, together with a neighbour, if the fire had taken hold.
He added shortly afterwards Rooks handed himself in to police and admitted starting the fire.
Mr Gittins said he had been at the resident's housewarming party earlier that night before some revellers had gone to Torpoint.
He said the behaviour of the flat resident had been "somewhat obnoxious" and he had been injured in a fight.
The resident went to hospital and Rooks, equipping himself with toilet paper from the Torpoint Ferry, visited his flat and started the fire.
Jo Martin, for Rooks, described the arson as an "act of drunken stupidity."
Lieutenant Gareth Williams, speaking in support of Rooks, told the court he would face further disciplinary action from the Navy.
He added: "This incident was entirely out of character."
The court heard he had also taken a Navy course to tackle his drinking.
Judge Darlow gave him an eight-month prison sentence, but suspended it for two years. He must live where directed by the Navy for the next seven days as what the judge called a "token" requirement of the sentence.
Rooks must also pay the £622 compensation to put right the damage and £750 prosecution costs.
Judge Darlow said: "The way you behaved after the offence shows that you were as horrified as much as anyone. You turned yourself in and co-operated with the police."