'High risk' firebug stalker who torched woman's 13th floor Edinburgh flat given 'life sentence'

Sean Roberts.
Sean Roberts.
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A firebug stalker who torched a woman's 13th floor Edinburgh flat after earlier threatening to burn two other womens' homes has been handed an Order for Lifelong Restriction (OLR) by a judge.

Sean Roberts was caught despite running from the property he had tried to send up in flames in December 2017.

READ MORE: Firebug stalker who torched woman’s flat facing life sentence

The 34-year-old had earlier subjected one woman to a horrifying four month campaign of stalking - at one stage threatening to set fire to her home - and made threats against two other women.

And at the High Court in Edinburgh on Thursday, Lord Uist imposed an OLR after the offender was found guilty of fire raising in July last year.

An OLR is imposed for the risk that the individual is assessed to present to the public.

'High Risk'

On sentencing, Lord Uist highlighted that Roberts has an extensive criminal record consisting of 27 court appearances for 53 separate offences - including five prison sentences - dating back to 2001.

The judge also said he had two offences of wilful fire raising on his record, and that he has never been employed permanently apart from a short period working in refuse collection.

The statement went on: "The criminal justice social work report which I obtained on you assessed you as being at a high level of risk, particularly to ex-partners. I therefore ordered a risk assessment report on you to be prepared. That report assessed your being at liberty as presenting a high risk to the safety of the public at large. It stated that your past record raised significant doubts about your engaging meaningfully in any treatment offered to you and pointed out that there is no short-term or medium-term treatment that would provide a solution to the risk of violence that you pose towards others and that, even if you received treatment in prison, it would not mitigate the need for long-term monitoring and supervision in the community.

"In my judgment... The risk you pose is so great that an extended sentence would not provide adequate protection for the public. I therefore make an order for lifelong restriction in respect of you. That order constitutes a sentence of imprisonment for an indefinite period."

An Order for Lifelong Restriction

The Scottish Sentencing Council says an OLR is a lifelong sentence put in place to protect the public.

The judge must set a ‘punishment part’ of the OLR which is the minimum time the offender must spend in prison before being considered by the Parole Board for Scotland for release into the community.

If offenders are considered to be safe to serve the rest of their sentence in the community, once they are released they will remain under the intensive supervision of a criminal justice social worker. If the person commits another crime, they can be sent back to prison.

Minimum Jail Term

Lord Uist also fixed the punishment part of the sentence for Roberts' crime, which resulted in three years and 11 months in jail. This sentence will run from December 22nd, 2017.

At his trial a jury heard how Roberts tormented the first woman at addresses across the Capital between February and mid-May 2017.

He bombarded Stacey Togher with text messages demanding she resume a relationship with him before making threatening and abusive phone calls to her.

He also send her a series of text messages and Facebook messages threatening to kill her and her family and to inflict violence on them.

Roberts later stalked Miss Togher before starting the fire in December 2017.

A jury ruled the fire had endangered lives and convicted Roberts of stalking, threatening and abusive behaviour and wilful fireraising following a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.

The full judgement can be read here.