Man kills girlfriend’s dog in drunken flat fire

Fraser Smith killed his girlfriend's dog in the blaze. Picture; contributed
Fraser Smith killed his girlfriend's dog in the blaze. Picture; contributed

A DRUNK man set fire to his own house – killing his girlfriend’s dog – because he wanted to know if brake-cleaning fluid was flammable.

Fraser Smith set a capful of the substance alight in his kitchen and ended up burning his home down.

As the inferno took hold, Smith, 28, grabbed hold of his girlfriend’s pet dog, but once outside the terrified animal soon bolted from his arms and back into the flat in Musselburgh.

The first-floor flat was gutted and the dog perished in the blaze which took place in the early hours of December 28, 2014.

Neighbours were forced to flee their homes as firefighters battled to bring the fire under control.

Smith is now facing a prison term after admitting to culpably and recklessly setting fire to brake fluid which spread to involve furniture and causing the death of a dog at Stoneyhill Place, Musselburgh, when he appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday.

Fiscal depute Kim Schofield told the court the emergency services received an anonymous phone call informing them of smoke coming from Smith’s flat at around 12.45am.

Ms Schofield said: “An anonymous informant reported to the police of a domestic disturbance within the flat. He also stated he could see smoke coming from under the front door.

“[On arrival] the [fire service] Watch Manager saw a well-developed fire coming from the first floor flat. Flames were coming from the window which had shattered due to the heat of the fire.”

Fortunately, by the time the fire service arrived all the neighbouring homes had been evacuated but there had been “extensive damage to the property”.

Ms Schofield added the watch manager spoke to father-of-one Smith at the time and he admitted starting the fire by “lighting a capful of brake cleaning fluid to see if it was flammable”.

The court was told the privately rented family home had been “ruined and burnt out” and 28-year-old Smith had since moved to the nearby village of Ormiston.

Ms Schofield added: “His partner’s dog was killed due to the fire.”

Solicitor Andrew Mellor, defending, said his unemployed client had been storing motorcycle parts in his kitchen and Smith had enjoyed a drinking session with friends on the night of the fire.

Mr Mellor told the court the incident had been “an accident waiting to happen” and added “the consequences [of his actions] had been catastrophic”.

Concerning the death of the dog, Mr Mellor added: “He carried the dog out [of the flat] but it ran back inside and hid behind the couch.”

Sheriff Peter Braid deferred sentence on Smith, from the Co-op Buildings in Ormiston, for the preparation of reports until next month.

newsen@edinburghnews.com