AN ARSONIST who caused almost £40,000 worth of damage to properties in Poole has been deemed a dangerous offender.

Judge Jonathan Fuller QC ruled that Aaron Michael Smith presented a significant risk of serious harm to members of the public through further offences.

The ruling was made when Smith, 23 and of Legion Close, Poole, appeared at Bournemouth Crown Court on Friday, October 8, for sentencing in relation to three fires he started on June 9 in Poole and three assaults on emergency workers when he was an in-patient at a mental health hospital last winter.

Judge Fuller QC said it was fortunate no one was home when Smith decided to set fire to a bin shed and storage area in Lagland Street.

The fire engulfed the wooden structure and caused severe damage to the neighbouring property.

Bournemouth Echo: The damage caused by a fire Aaron Michael Smith started in Lagland Street, Poole, on June 9. Picture: CPS

This incident was shortly after Smith set fire to a clothes recycling bin in Chapel Lane and rubbish behind Natwest in High Street.

“While the home was unoccupied at the time, that was only good fortune and the risk of serious harm to the occupants had they been there was manifest,” said Judge Fuller QC.

The court heard the Lagland Street blaze caused around £39,000 of damage, which had forced residents of one of the affected properties to find a new home.

Following the incident, Smith was located on the roof of a car park and arrested following negotiations. When in custody, he damaged the cell he was placed in.

Smith previously pleaded guilty to two counts of arson, one count of arson being reckless as to whether life is engaged, one count of criminal damage, three counts of assaulting an emergency worker by beating and two breaches of suspended sentences.

Prosecuting, Stuart Ellacott said the defendant assaulted three members of staff at Ravenswood House Hospital in Hampshire when he was an in-patient last winter.

The court heard when he was released from hospital earlier this year he was street homeless.

Mitigating, barrister Nick Robinson said his client had been let down by support services and no one had given him a chance to get the help he needed.

He said the court should consider Smith, who has autism and ADHD, to be a vulnerable individual.

“It is clear as day this defendant has needed help over the years and he hasn’t had it,” said Mr Robinson.

Judge Fuller QC said the offender committed the three arson offences having consumed alcohol and taken cannabis, which impacted on his behaviour.

The judge said the Lagland Street fire must have been an “extremely frightening” and “upsetting” matter for the resident.

It was highlighted by the judge that the defendant seemed “determined” to set fire to property on June 9.

Smith received an eight-year extended sentence for arson being reckless as to whether life is engaged, with four years imprisonment and four years on licence.

He received concurrent one-month prison sentences for the two simple arson offences and three months concurrent for criminal damage of the police cell.

The defendant received a total of 12 months imprisonment consecutive for the assaults at Ravenswood House Hospital and a further nine months consecutive for breaching suspended sentence orders.

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