Arsonist walks free after torching police car
An arsonist who torched a police car in a bid to get sent to jail failed in his mission after magistrates opted to let him walk free.
John Gordon, 36, was in the middle of a nervous breakdown and clutching a can of beer when he walked up to a police car parked in Hulverston Close, Sutton, smashed its window, took off his vest and set it alight before throwing it into the back seat on July 21.
At Gordon's sentencing this morning, Croydon magistrates heard how he then called police on himself as the car burned. When officers arrived he approached them and said: "I did it, I want to go to prison." During an interview at Sutton police station he continued to admit his guilt and apologised to officers, explaining again that he wanted to go to prison.
Miss Eitte, defending Gordon, said: Mr Gordon is extremely remorseful for his actions. He called police himself on the scene and, on their arrival, he told them 'I'm sorry officers, I did it, I want to go back to prison, I have no life. I set the police car on fire. He kept apologising for what he'd done.
"Mr Gordon was suffering from a nervous breakdown at the time. It was a cry for help. He'd gone through numerous issues and felt it was either suicide or be taken in by the police."
She told the court he has since recovered from the breakdown and plans to get help for his problems but told magistrates a custodial sentence would not address his needs. A pre-sentence report put together by the Probation Service encouraged the magistrates to give Gordon a community punishment rather than a jail sentence.
The magistrates said: "We've listened carefully. Arson is a very serious offence. The damage to property and endangerment of life means we take it very seriously but we are going to follow the report."
Gordon was given a two-year community order meaning he must get psychological help and will have to pay £145 in costs and charges.
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