'Selfish' woman set fire to Trowbridge animal charity shop and assaulted police officer

Rachel Thomas called police saying she had locked herself inside the shop and that it was on fire. Credit: Wiltshire Police

A 'selfish' woman set fire to a charity shop in Trowbridge before assaulting a female police officer.

Rachel Thomas, 41, of Singers Court, Frome, appeared at Winchester Crown Court on 26 September and pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life is endangered and assault on an emergency worker.

During the evening of 10 February, Thomas called 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.

People could be heard in the background shouting at her to get out of the shop.

Prior to police arrival, three members of the public 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 police detained Thomas she was continually abusive towards them and assaulted a female officer, causing her a minor injury to her foot, police said.

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.

The fire was started in a charity shop raising money for animals in need. Credit: Wiltshire Police

“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.