A drunk mother-of-two has avoided jail after she set fire to her own house while her two children slept upstairs – and then rescued her pet bird and turtle instead.
Anna Ferries, 42, attempted to torch the family home in Salford, Greater Manchester and shouted: ‘I don’t want to live any more, I want to die,’ a court heard.
Neighbours raced inside the property when they saw flames and pulled Ms Ferries’ teenage son and young daughter to safety.
Witnesses said Ferries remained ‘oblivious’ while the fire raged, and was preoccupied with helping her pet turtle and bird.
Ferries was heard screaming ‘Get the baby out I’m going to set fire to the house’ and after the initial blaze was extinguished she went back inside and set fire to curtains.
Anna Ferries, 42, attempted to torch the family home in Salford, Greater Manchester and shouted: ‘I don’t want to live any more, I want to die,’ a court heard
She later told police that she had intended to kill herself. A fire service investigator said the blaze could have easily spread to the point where lives were at serious risk.
Judge Suzanne Goddard QC said Ferries was lucky none of her family died.
Ferries, of Salford, was given a suspended sentence after the court heard she has had problems with alcohol and her mental health.
She was sentenced to 16 months, suspended for two years after admitting arson, reckless as to whether life would be endangered.
The court earlier heard that on August 21, 2018, Ferries’ neighbour returned home at around 1am and noticed Ferries was drunk.
Neighbours raced inside the property (pictured, the street where she lived in Salford) when they saw flames and pulled Ms Ferries’ teenage son and young daughter to safety
Prosecuting, Andrew Mackintosh told the court Ferries approached the woman on a number of occasions, asking her for a drink, which she declined.
‘Shortly after 4am, the woman went into the garden for a cigarette,’ Mr Mackintosh said.
‘She heard her neighbour scream ‘get the baby out I am going to set the house on fire’.
‘The neighbour saw some flames coming from the living window. The defendant looked completely oblivious.’
Mr Mackintosh said the neighbour ran into the house and began searching for the children.
‘The defendant’s son then appeared at the top of the stairs with his little sister in his arms,’ he told the court.
‘The neighbour grabbed the girl and took her out the front of the property.
‘She then turned and saw the defendant walk back out the front door carrying a bird cage. She then went back in for a cage with a turtle in it.
‘The fire in the house had since been put out but she was seen to walk back towards the property and set fire to a curtain.’
Police attended the house and, when asked by an officer what had happened, Ferries said: ‘I wanted to kill myself, I wanted to die.’
The court heard she was taken to Salford Royal Hospital for an assessment, but was not admitted.
Ferries’ barrister, Michael Johnson said his client’s offending had been ‘underpinned’ by her issues with mental ill-health.
He told the court that in the summer of 2018, her health had been deteriorating.
‘She had been to see her GP and said she was in a mental health crisis and was referred to the community psychiatric team,’ Mr Johnson said.
‘But funding was cut and the defendant began to lose contact with the community mental health team and she was discharged in the December before this incident.
‘She has been complying with her medication and has since been more stable.’
Sentencing, Judge Suzanne Goddard QC said: ‘You had been drinking heavily… and your neighbours were concerned about what was happening.
‘You are lucky you have neighbours who were there to help you and took the young child out of the house.
‘Since that time you have been complying with medication and have been making progress.
‘But what you did was very serious indeed. Your son and daughter were in that house.
‘Had that fire took hold they could have died.’
Ferries was also ordered to complete an alcohol treatment programme, 20 days rehabilitation and attend a women’s problem solving court.