Accused is alleged to have started fire in his own flat

A MAN has appeared in court accused of starting a fire in the flat where he lives, potentially putting the safety of himself and neighbours at risk.

Greg Toulmin is believed to have ignited items placed around a settee at the premises, in Arcadia, Ouston, on September 4, to start the fire.

Durham Crown Court heard that is the main hypothesis of a fire officer who has investigated the blaze.

The court was told the only alternative was that it was caused by an electric fire found at the scene, but the officer favours the deliberate arson theory as the likely cause.

Toulmin, who appeared via video link from nearby Durham Prison, is charged with arson with intent to endanger life.

His counsel, Chris Morrison, asked that the charge was not put to his client, to allow for preparation of a medical report to assess the level of the defendant’s psychiatric difficulties.

Judge Ray Singh agreed and remanded the 41-year-old defendant to remain in custody until the rescheduled plea hearing, on November 19.

A provisional trial date was set for February 10, should the case be contested.

The Northern Echo | Durham