I was nearly killed in that fire. How can he avoid jail?

Donald Millan, one of the rescued residents from the Tarvit Street fire. Picture: Jayne Wright.
Donald Millan, one of the rescued residents from the Tarvit Street fire. Picture: Jayne Wright.
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THE elderly victim of a fire in a block of flats has told of his anger after the man responsible for the blaze escaped a jail sentence.

Donald Millan, 63, had to be rescued by firefighters in November after his tenement in Tarvit Street, Tollcross, caught fire when 21-year-old Thomas Ferrier, from Dalkeith, flicked 
a lit cigarette on to a pile of 
rubbish.

The blaze required the 
rescue of 15 residents from the block, with nine taken to hospital for further treatment.

Ferrier was yesterday ordered to carry out 300 hours of unpaid community work after pleading guilty at Edinburgh Sheriff Court to setting fire recklessly to a ground-floor flat in the tenement and endangering the lives of residents.

Mr Millan, a retired dishwasher, said the sentence was not enough. He told the News: “I do not agree with [the 
sentence] – I am angry about it 
because I was nearly killed when that fire happened.

“If he comes out again he’ll just start another fire. I think we should put him in jail and get rid of him. It should be 25 years before he gets out.

“All the people in the stair have moved away because he might start a fire again if he gets out.”

Mr Millan said he was terrified when he opened the door to his flat in the early hours of November 11 last year and smoke came billowing in.

He said: “I thought I was going to die in there.”

Defence solicitor Cheryl Beattie told the court her client had been at a party in a flat above the site of the fire and that “alcohol had been taken”.

She added that there had been a fire in the ground-floor flat previously, caused by an electrical fault, and said Ferrier had gone down with another man to look at the damage.

While there, cigarettes were lit. Ferrier then discarded his cigarette “by flicking it through into the kitchen area”. The kitchen contained rubbish and as Ferrier walked into another room, he became aware the rubbish had caught fire.

He then ran upstairs to the flat where the party was taking place, banging and shouting on the door to alert his friends.

The occupants of the block were brought to safety by fire crews from Tollcross station but one man was so frightened he jumped from a third-floor window, seriously fracturing his back.

Ms Beattie told Sheriff Holligan that Ferrier was fully aware of the consequences of his action and the cost to the fire service.

Placing Ferrier on a community payback order, Sheriff William Holligan told him he had to take into account that the charge to which he had pleaded guilty was one of culpable and reckless conduct, not wilful fire-raising. He also noted Ferrier had no previous convictions at the time.