Edinburgh crime: Homeless man described as a “poor man’s Bear Grylls” jailed for fires at prestigious estate
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A homeless man who was described as “a poor man’s Bear Grylls” has been jailed after he admitted setting a barn on fire within the grounds of a prestigious Scottish estate.
Kenneth Coleman, 48, set fire to a large pile of wood chips causing the wooden building to burn down at the Dalmeny House Estate near South Queensferry on the outskirts of Edinburgh.
Edinburgh Sheriff Court was told at its height the blaze was around “25 feet wide and 30 feet deep” and was located close to a gas supply and a biomass boiler.
Coleman, who had been living rough on the grounds of the estate, also caused a second blaze close to a listed building within the estate grounds by setting fire to wooden pallets and logs.
The court heard when he was challenged by two estate workers Coleman challenged the men to a fight and threatened to stab one of them.
The Dalmeny House and Estate is home to the 7th Earl and Countess of Rosebery and the main house is a protected Category A listed building.
Coleman appeared from custody at the capital court last week where he pled guilty to causing two fires, possessing a kitchen knife and behaving in an aggressive manner at the estate on August 13 last year.
Prosecutor Gillian Koren told the court witnesses spotted a bonfire on the grounds containing “a number of items from the estate” within the curtilage of the Category B listed Leuchold House. Coleman was seen nearby and after the workers managed to extinguish the fire they contacted the police.
Ms Koren said later that evening an estate manager was driving through the grounds when he “smelled smoke” and spotted “a large pile of wood chips on fire” within the barn. The court heard the large fire had been set close to a biomass fat boiler and a gas supply, and the barn was destroyed.
The emergency services were contacted and when Coleman was confronted by the workers he shouted “useless pr***s” and “chill out, it’s just a fire”. The court was told during the confrontation Coleman also threatened to stab one of the men and was heard to say “I couldn’t give a f*** if you died in your beds”. He then ran off into the estate grounds and was later tracked down by police and arrested.
Defence agent Ross Gardner said his client had been “living rough on the estate for a period of time” and had “often started fires without incident”. Mr Gardner said: “The position is that some have described him as ‘a poor man’s Bear Grylls’ but I don’t really see that as the case.”
The lawyer said Coleman doesn’t choose to live rough and suffers from “mental health difficulties”.
Sheriff Wendy Sheehan said: “Mr Coleman you will be aware given the offences you have pled to and given your criminal record I have no option but to impose a custodial sentence.” The sheriff jailed Coleman for a total of 14 months.
Coleman was also sent to prison for six months after he broke into Dalmeny House and set a fire in the A-listed building’s Courtyard Room three years ago. He left the fire burning and was later found sleeping in a boiler room of the 18th century mansion house by police on November 18, 2020.