Wife who set herself on fire after driving test fail is spared jail

Decision: Mr and Mrs Sapkota outside the High Court in Edinburgh.
Decision: Mr and Mrs Sapkota outside the High Court in Edinburgh.
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THE HUSBAND of a woman who set herself on fire after failing her driving test despite taking 90 lessons today spoke of his “happiness” that their family would be reunited after she was spared a jail sentence.

Yamkala Sapkota had rowed with her husband over the cost of her bid to acquire a licence before leaving a suicide note in her native Nepalese, dousing her clothes in white spirits and setting herself aflame.

The 30-year-old, who was left scarred for life, had been banned from living at the family home in Leith and seeing her three young children un-
supervised since the incident last June.

But after deferring sentence for one year for good behaviour, Judge Lord Bannatyne also removed the bail order which restricted Sapkota’s access to her family.

Speaking to the News following the hearing at the High Court in Edinburgh yesterday, her husband, Yadumani Sapkota, said he was glad they could now be back together.

He said: “We’re very happy with this decision. We’ve had difficult moments during the last year. Now our family is going to be reunited and we can start organising a reunion. It’s given us so much happiness and we want to get back to 

Sapkota and her husband moved to the UK eight years ago after marrying in Nepal, and he secured a job as a 
restaurant chef.

Under her original bail conditions, Sapkota was banned from seeing her children. The bail order was later amended so that she could have supervised access to the youngsters, but she was barred from living at home.

On June 28 last year, firefighters using breathing apparatus managed to rescue Sapkota, who was semi-conscious after suffering burns to her face, back and arms, from her flat in Gordon Street.

Sapkota earlier admitted culpably and recklessly starting the fire, severely injuring herself and endangering the lives of others.

Defence counsel, Sarah Livingstone, said Sapkota had described herself as being “out of her mind” at the time.

She said: “She takes full responsibility for what she did that day. In her state of mind she was trying to harm herself and no one else.”

Ms Livingstone added that social workers have “no concerns about her parenting ability”.

The judge told her: “I have decided to take the unusual course in a High Court case and to defer sentence for one year for you to be of good behaviour.” Advocate depute, Stephen O’Rourke, had told the court that on the day of the incident Mr Sapkota had left for work. Sapkota said her husband had told her to “die if you want” and she was upset.

The prosecutor said: “The motivator behind the incident was the fact that the accused had failed to pass her driving test for the fourth time that morning, after taking over 90 lessons.

“She was very upset about this and an argument followed between her and her husband which led to the comment.”

Sapkota suffered 12 per cent burns to her face, head, neck, shoulder, right arm and back. She has undergone two skin graft operations and has to wear a special suit because of the injuries. She was psychiatrically assessed but was not diagnosed as suffering from a mental illness.

Lord Bannatyne told her that if she did not offend over the next year he would likely admonish her.