Crawley woman called 999 to report fires she started herself

Credit: Sussex Police

A woman from Crawley who repeatedly dialled 999 to report fires she had started herself has been jailed.

Amy Winter, 42, of Trefoil Crescent, called emergency services multiple times at Christmas in 2020, endangering the lives of fire crews and members of the public.

East Sussex Fire and Rescue received a call at 2.45pm on Christmas Eve, with Winter claiming there was a fire at a flat in Surrey Street, Brighton, and that she was struggling to breathe.

Firefighters extinguished a small fire.

Winter again made a 999 shortly before 3.20pm the same day. Police and paramedics were called and found her with a head injury but when they tried to help she became threatening and abusive.

After being assessed by a mental health officer Winter calmed down and police officers left the scene.

While paramedics remained in Surrey Street to complete paperwork at 4.12pm, firefighters arrived on blue lights having just been called again by Winter. They found bedding had been set alight inside, which they extinguished. But as they were leaving, firefighters noticed flames through an internal window.

Winter locked the door behind them, but after forcing their way in, they found her bed had been set alight and she was pretending to be unconscious on the floor.

Police returned and she was arrested on suspicion of arson with recklessness as to endanger life and subsequently charged.

At Lewes Crown Court on April 11 she was sentenced to 28 months imprisonment after pleading guilty.

Amy Winter called the fire service after setting bedding alight in a flat in Surrey Street, Brighton. Credit: Sussex Police

Investigator Rose Horan said: “Amy Winter’s reckless behaviour endangered the lives of her neighbours, firefighters and the wider public.

"She deliberately started fires and was aggressive towards members of the emergency services.

“All of the police officers, paramedics and firefighters who attended on Christmas Eve displayed incredible patience with her.

“This custodial sentence should send a message to her and others not to waste the valuable time and resources of the emergency services."