An ‘idiot’ who sparked fears of a similar fire which killed three children after starting a blaze has been jailed for three years.

Andrew Porter, 25, set alight rubbish inside the close in Glencairn Road, Paisley late on 14th April 2022.

The building was engulfed with thick smoke leaving those inside trapped and unable escape out their front doors.

One mum contacted a relative watching her daughter fearing she would never see her again.

The property was just 200 yards away from a cottage flat in the town’s Renfrew Road where Fiona Gibson, 12, as well as her brothers Alexander, 8, and Philip, 5, died in a fatal fire in June 2020.

A judge heard how the residents were aware of that which “added to their fear” during this incident.

Porter yesterday appeared via video-link for sentencing at the High Court in Glasgow.

He had earlier pleaded guilty to two charges of wilful fire-raising – one in connection with the Glencairn Road blaze and also torching a wheelie bin nearby.

Lady Stacey told him: “What you did was serious. The people in the houses must have been terrified.

“I accept you realise how serious this now was and that you are ashamed of yourself.

“So you should be – what you did was a terrible thing to do.”

The judge cut the jail-term from four years due to the guilty pleas.

The previous hearing was told how David and Amerjit Mullen were at home with both their children already asleep.

Mrs Mullen was also dozing off in bed when she became aware of banging in their close.

Mr Mullen opened the front door before quickly shutting it as smoke started billowing in.

He yelled at his wife: “There is a fire. You need to get up. We need to get the kids out.”

A panicked Mr Mullen managed to open a living room window before exiting first and his wife passed his “hysterical and scared” children out to him.

Mrs Mullen was then also able to escape.

Prosecutor Imran Bashir said: “She observed an upstairs neighbour – Nicole Anderson – holding a young baby shouting down to her that she was trapped.”

Mrs Anderson was at home with her husband along with two of their three children.

The family were “extremely scared” with no means to get out other than a first floor window.

Mr Bashir: “Nicole Anderson was so fearful that she made contact with her sister, who was baby sitting her eldest child, to let her know she loved her.

“She believed that she was going to die that evening.”

The fire crews raced to the scene and were fortunately able to rescue the Andersons as well as put out the blaze.

Another resident was also helped from his home.

The court heard the seat of the blaze was a pile of rubbish behind the close door.

Two children’s bikes and a scooter also caught fire.

It was concluded that had any of the residents tried to leave via the stairwell they would have been “overcome by the smoke within seconds” and their lives put in danger.

Mr Bashir: “All of the residents were aware of that earlier incident (the fatal fire) which added to their fear during the course of this.”

Porter was snared nearby after also torching a wheelie bin.

He was clutching a six-foot stick which was on fire.

He claimed: “I only lit a candle.”

As well as stating he was an “idiot” and a “f***y”, a lighter was discovered in one of his pockets.

The hearing was told the council was left with a £2822 repair bill for the smoke damage building.

Prosecutors stated the fire was to the danger of the lives of the residents.

The court heard today/yesterday that Porter was a first offender.

By Grant McCabe

Renfrewshire News Court Reporter

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