Portsmouth man set fire to bed after taking ‘legal high’ drugs

JAILED James Younghusband
JAILED James Younghusband

Cannabis dealers spared jail term

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FIREFIGHTERS rescued a man who barricaded himself in his room and set fire to his bed after taking drugs.

The crew from Southsea smashed the door down to get into James Younghusband’s room at the Mill House homeless hostel in Milton Road, Milton.

Fighting through the thick smoke, they found the 22-year-old unconscious on the floor.

After carrying him outside they managed to revive him before he was taken to hospital.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard unemployed Younghusband suffered with mental health issues after taking a mixture of drugs known as legal highs.

Fifty-five people were evacuated and £600 of damage was caused to the room but no one else was harmed. Younghusband made a full recovery.

Robert Bolton, defending, said: ‘At the time of setting this fire the doctor’s feeling is that he was in a psychotic state.

‘He has been on prescription drugs and legal highs.

‘He was admitted to hospital. He nearly died.

‘The firemen saved his life.

‘He is still a young man who needs help.’

The court heard Younghusband was hearing voices telling him staff at the hostel wanted to kill him.

Mr Bolton said he had made two other attempts to take his life before the fire.

Younghusband, formerly of Merryfield, Fareham, pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered following the incident in August last year.

Jailing him for two years Judge Roger Hetherington said: ‘You set fire to bedding in your room with a naked flame, barricaded yourself in the room and you yourself were made unconscious by the smoke that filled the room.

‘On the evidence I accept that this was consistent with what is described as a drug-induced pyschotic episode.

‘You were hearing voices, you had thoughts about being killed by the manager.

‘This was probably an attempt to take your own life which very nearly succeeded.’

He added: ‘The hope is that you will have achieved some insight in prison to the connection between drug use and psychosis.

‘I hope that when you come out of prison you maintain that insight.

‘Because of the seriousness of the case I am bound to sentence you to an immediate prison sentence.’

After the sentencing Detective Constable Andrew Holt. of Portsmouth CID, said: ‘This was a serious incident with the potential to endanger a number of lives.

‘I hope that the sentence will offer some reassurance to those affected by what happened.’