Woman who set fire to Trowbridge charity shop sentenced
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A woman who set fire to a Trowbridge shop before assaulting a female police officer has been sentenced.
Rachel Thomas, 41, of Singers Court, Frome, appeared at Winchester Crown Court on September 26 and pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life is endangered and assault on an emergency worker.
During the evening of February 10, Thomas called the Police from inside the Blue Cross Charity Shop in Fore Street and told the call handler that she had locked herself inside the shop and the shop was on fire. Members of the public could be heard in the background shouting at her to get out of the shop.
Prior to police arrival, three members of the public bravely forced entry into the store, removing items that were on fire in order to prevent it from spreading further. They also managed to get Thomas out for her own safety.
When officers subsequently detained Thomas she was continually abusive towards them and assaulted a female officer causing her a minor injury to her foot.
Detective Inspector Tom Straker of The Central CID said: “Thomas put the lives of those living above the shop and those working or socialising in the vicinity at risk by setting fire to the shop. She also caused significant damage and disruption to the business – a charity shop which raises money for animals in need.
“When she was arrested, Thomas was verbally abusive towards our Officers before stamping on an Officer’s foot as she continued to act in a volatile and disrespectful manner. This is completely unacceptable behaviour towards a police officer who was simply carrying out her duties to protect members of the public.
“I’d like to praise the members of the public who were in the area at the time – it is thanks to their quick thinking and bravery that nobody was seriously injured, or worse killed, as a result of her selfish and mindless actions.” Thomas was given a three month prison sentence suspended for 12 months, a community order and ordered to pay a £154 surcharge.