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Woman set fire to her Derbyshire jail cell

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: August 18, 2014

IH270606B-1 GV of Foston Hall prison

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A CONVICTED robber set fire to her own cell at a Derbyshire women's prison, a court has heard.

Charlyne Newell lit books and clothing in the cell while staying as a inmate at Foston Hall on March 17 this year.

Derby Crown Court heard how the incident caused smoke damage but no one was seriously hurt.

Alex Wolfson, prosecuting, said: "It is accepted that there were no accelerants used and it is accepted that books and clothing were set fire to.

"It happened in a prison cell on a segregated unit.

"I have seen her defence case statement that says she set the fire in an attempt to take her own life.

"But we also suggest that the fire could have been harmful to others."

At the time of the offence Newell, of no fixed address, was serving a seven-year sentence for robbery.

She has since been transferred to Holloway Prison, in London, which is closer to her family.

Newell was originally charged with arson with intent to recklessly endanger life, an offence she denied.

But when the lesser charge of arson was put to her, the 29-year-old pleaded guilty.

Gregor Purcell, for Newell, said his client wished to have a pre-sentence report prepared before she was sentenced.

He said: "I ask for reports because there is some psychiatric background to the case.

"The only option for this court is further custody but the decision is whether it is consecutive or concurrent to her current sentence.

"She would prefer to be sentenced by video link because it is obvious that she will not be allowed to be kept at Foston Hall and she would prefer to remain at Holloway because it is closer to her family who live down south."

Recorder Michael Butterworth adjourned the case to the same court to September 4.

He said: "It is an unusual sentencing exercise and it is important to see reports to understand what state of mind the defendant was in at the time of the offence."

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