The detective who led the investigation said Turnbull’s actions ‘could easily have resulted in a fatality’
A drink-fuelled arsonist has been jailed after she put the lives of her neighbours at risk – by sparking a £20,000 inferno at her own home.
Abigail Turnbull ignited three separate fires at her address on Wallridge Drive in Whitley Bay in the early hours of April 17.
As her neighbours slept, Turnbull – who was under the influence of drink and drugs – lit the fires which soon erupted into a dangerous blaze shortly after 4.30am.
A young family who live nearby were awoken by the smoke alarm and saw thick smoke bellowing from Turnbull’s property – forcing them to evacuate their adjoining home.
When emergency services arrived they found Turnbull, 28, sat on the doorstep in a state of “confusion” as the blaze – which caused £20,000 worth of damage – continued to worsen.
Turnbull was taken to hospital for treatment for suspected smoke inhalation and was later arrested by police, where in interview she admitted starting the fires.
She claimed that during her intoxication she thought “people were inside her address” and that she wanted to “scare them away”.
She subsequently pleaded guilty to arson being reckless to whether life would be endangered when she appeared at Newcastle Crown Court on May 18.
Yesterday (Wednesday), she was at the same court and was jailed for 30 months.
Detective Constable Suzanne Davies, who led the investigation, said: “Abigail Turnbull’s decision to start the fire put not only her own life in danger, but the lives of all her neighbours who were fast asleep.
“This so easily could have resulted in a fatality or very serious injury, and she is incredibly lucky that she is not facing more severe punishment.
“There is absolutely no place for this type of behaviour in our communities, and I am pleased that the severity of her crime has been recognised with this custodial sentence.
“A home should be your safe haven – and I know the events of that night will live long in the memory of her neighbours who were understandably terrified by what happened.
“I sincerely hope that this time behind bars offers Turnbull the chance to reflect on how her actions can adversely affect others.”
In a statement prepared for court, a neighbour who was forced to evacuate as a result of the blaze admitted the family were “scared and frightened” as a result of the fire.
“I had nothing but problems to me and my family since Abi moved in three years ago,” they said. “She would make excessive noise in her house playing music in the early hours and doors slamming.
“Since the fire, my child has been clearly affected and is frightened ‘the nasty lady’ is going to come back.”
Turnbull now begins a custodial term and will not return to her former home once her sentence has been served.