A woman who started a fire which put the life of her boyfriend in danger has been
detained under the Mental Health Act.
Deborah Branson-Butler, 39, of Somerset Court, Haverhill had been found shortly
after the blaze wearing a dressing gown and with nothing on her feet at the town’s
At Ipswich Crown Court on Wednesday, Judge David Goodin heard medical evidence before making an order which requiried Branson-Butler to be detained at the specialist Norvic Clinic mental health unit for treatment.
Four weeks ago a jury at the same court decided that Branson-Butler had committed
the act with which she was charged.
Branson-Butler, who was accused of arson with intent to endanger life, was not in court
because she was unwell and the jury were told that it was an unusual type of trial in
which she would not be appearing to give evidence.
Prosecuting, Lori Tucker said that her boyfriend, who had been working a night shift, had returned to the bedsit that he shared with Branson-Butler at about 6am on April 29 last year.
Mr Coe had gone to bed but awoken at 11am to find the room filled with smoke and the
sofa on fire.
Ms Tucker said: “He was choking and couldn’t hear anything because he was wearing ear
plugs to help him sleep but he could see that the room was full of smoke.”
In a bid to contain the fire he tried to beat out the flames and threw burning cushions
out of the door. He looked around to see where Branson-Butler was but she was not there, the court heard.
He said he managed to get outside and called the fire service who had to break down
the front door to quell the blaze because he had locked himself out as he fled.
The jury heard from a fire investigator who said an examination of the sofa showed that it had been set on fire by a naked flame being held against the fabric. Tests ruled out other causes including a discarded cigarette end or an electrical fault.
Branson-Butler, known to friends as Debbie, was detained at about midday the same day
in Burton End, Haverhill wearing a dressing gown and with nothing on her feet.
Because of her condition Branson-Butler was granted police bail until May 10 when she was rearrested and interviewed.
The jury heard details of what Branson-Butler told police, including that she had been feeling very low and wanted to kill her boyfriend.
She said: “I got a lighter and set fire to the sofa.”