Newcastle College ‘pyromaniac’ student set fire to building to get out of exam

Newcastle College student set fire to building to get out of exam

Watch more of our videos on Shots!
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

A student set fire to toilets in a college packed with pupils in a bid to get out of sitting an exam.

Ozlem Firat sparked two blazes at Newcastle College’s Parsons Building, by igniting loo paper, shortly before her test was due to start on May 2 2021.

Newcastle Crown Court heard she started one fire in the ladies on the sixth floor of the campus and a second on the third floor women’s bathroom, causing over £7,000 of damage.

Newcastle Crown CourtNewcastle Crown Court
Newcastle Crown Court

Firat, who changed her clothes between each target, had been using dark web chatrooms and said during one text chat that she was “going to set fires to get out of attending an exam” and spoke about “excitement at watching bodies burning”.

She later confessed to police she was a “pyromaniac” and had a “fascination with fire” but initially denied being responsible for the arson attack.

Prosecutor Joe Culley told the court staff had been alerted to a fire in the third floor ladies toilet at around 9.50am that day.CCTV showed Firat had been the last person to use that loo and she was briefly spoken to by staff during her exam.

Firat, who was carrying matches and a lighter, denied knowing about or causing the fire and continued with the test.

The second fire was then found in the sixth floor ladies room and once again Firat was shown on cctv to be the last person in there.

Mr Culley said: “It seems the two fires had been started around the same time, before the defendant entered her lesson to start her exam.”

Firat was arrested the following day and confessed her “fascination with fire”.

She later told probation officers she felt a “euphoria” in fire starting.

An investigation of her phone showed she had been using the dark web and had spoken about her fire starting plans.

Mr Culley said: “She had messaged a person saying she was going to start the fires to get out of attending her exam.

“There was discussion in the messages about how to start fire and that the fire would need to be big enough to set off alarms. There was reference to her fascination with fire.”

During the conversations Firat spoke about “excitement at watching bodies burn”.

Mr Culley said it is unclear how many students were in the building when the blazes were started but added: “The court can infer it was a college day, there was an exam taking place, there were many students.

“It was that time in the morning, it was an operational college day. Clearly it was a large building with multiple floors and a large number of rooms.”

Firat, 24, of Eastern Way, Newcastle, admitted arson.

Miss Recorder Caroline Sellars said Firat’s case was “troubling” and doctors who have assessed her have described her as “narcissistic” and “dangerous”.

The Recorder said: “Doctors agree you pose a high risk of serious harm to the public.”

Recorder Sellars said it was “luck rather than judgement” that nobody was hurt and no more damage was caused.

But she added that Firat, who lives with her mother, has stayed out of trouble since, has family support and can be rehabilitated with intensive intervention.

Firat was sentenced to 14 months, suspended for two years, with rehabilitation and curfew requirements.

Sophie Allinson-Howells, defending, said: “There was no intention to harm anyone in that building whatsoever.

“She was not trying to harm students or staff members whatsoever.

“She is at a loss to explain why she did what she did.”

Miss Allinson-Howells said Firat has a severe personality disorder and has known she was “different from her peers” since childhood but has never received appropriate help.

She added: “She has a desperate willingness to engage with help.”Miss Allinson-Howells said one fire was extinguished with water and the other burned itself out.