14/08/2014 16:49 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Mum Started House Fire In Bid To Be Rehoused While Three Children Slept Upstairs

Mum started house fire in bid to be rehoused while three children asleep upstairs

A mother has been jailed after setting fire to her home while her three children slept upstairs in a bid to get rehoused.

A court heard that Kimberley Doherty ignited the rug in the hallway, shouted for help and smothered the flames herself with a damp towel.

All the while, her three kids, aged four months, six years and seven were sleeping upstairs. Thankfully, none of them were hurt.

In a case that has echoes of the Mick Philpott and Melanie Smith house fire tragedies, Bolton Crown Court heard from the accused's friend and neighbour, Gemma Giles, who was in bed on January 8 at 10.30pm when she heard shouts and screams coming from Doherty's home.

She ran across the road and saw Doherty lying in the hall with a towel over her. The next day the police were called.

Doherty told them she had received threatening messages from a former partner and a piece of lit cardboard had been posted through her letter box, but later admitted she had been lying.

Doherty, 28, pleaded guilty to arson and reckless endangerment of life following the incident in Westhoughton, Lancashire.

Honorary Recorder of Bolton, Judge Timothy Clayson, sentenced her to two and a half years in jail. He said he accepted she had not intended to hurt her children, who were vulnerable and asleep at the time of the fire.

"But equally, you put those children at very great risk,' he added.

"In the minutes when this fire was alight it could so easily have got out of control with tragic consequences."

Duncan McDiarmid, defending, said: "She set the fire in order to hope that it would assist in the removal of herself and her family to a different address."

He added that Doherty, who was of previous good character, had been suffering from anxiety and claimed she had been assaulted. The court heard that medical experts were unable to agree whether Doherty had a mental health disorder.