A woman started a fire at a block of new-build flats – in a bizarre bid to get her niece to leave.

Kelly Marie McDonald was captured on Ring doorbell footage dragging a mattress across the front door of one of the properties before setting it alight.

The 38 year-old had also piled a bag of rubbish and a doormat on top.

The blaze quickly took hold forcing a couple inside to escape to their balcony.

McDonald then stood outside filming the fire crews racing to the scene in Millarston Drive, Paisley on February 27 2022.

The tenants living at the block were luckily rescued.

McDonald went on trial at the High Court in Glasgow charged with attempting to murder the couple.

There were claims she had deliberately targeted the pair after noise complaints were allegedly made about McDonald’s teenage niece, who lived across the landing.

The mum denied the murder bid claiming she had been told by her relative no one else lived in the block at the time.

McDonald instead said she started the fire to get her niece to leave and go with her after she had been involved in an incident with others at a party.

She told jurors: “I think I wanted her out of the close…evacuated.

“I think she was scared for her life in case those people came back.”

In her closing speech, McDonald’s lawyer Wendy Culross said she had made a “terrible and stupid decision” that night – but not attempted murder.

The jury went on to convict McDonald, also of Paisley, of the reduced charge of wilful fire-raising to the danger of those in the block.

She had her bail continued pending sentencing, but still faces a likely jail-term when she returns to the dock.

The trial was shown the Ring doorbell footage of pulling the large mattress across the door and initially trying to torch it with a cigarette from her mouth.

There was then a “clicking” of what sounded like a lighter before flames and smoke quickly emerge.

The court heard couple who lived there soon became aware of the potentially catastrophic blaze and escaped to their verandah.

The fire brigade fortunately arrived, but only after they battled through thick smoke having initially been unable to see inside the close.

McDonald gave evidence and told how she had gone to visit her niece for the first time at the new build flats.

She said her relative was “crying, upset” and wanted McDonald “to look after her” following an incident at a party.

The women drank alcohol during several hours at the flat.

McDonald said she had no recollection of the fire and her next memory was being in a police cell.

She told the jury the first she saw the Ring doorbell footage was when her legal team showed her in March 2023.

Defence advocate Miss Culross asked how she felt watching it.

McDonald: “Devastated, embarrassed – it is a horrible thing.”

She added she was “gutted” at putting others at threat.

She believed her niece was the only one who had moved into the block – although a name plate was on the door where the mattress was torched.

McDonald: “I would not start a fire if I knew people were there.”

Prosecutor Tim Haddow put to her, in cross examination, that she aware of the noise complaint and that she had gone to the neighbours to “teach them a lesson.”

McDonald stated at one stage: “I was not targeting anyone or trying to murder somebody because they were going to tell the housing. That is ridiculous.”

The court heard McDonald no longer speaks to her niece.

Lord Harrower adjourned sentencing for reports until 17th June in Dundee.

He warned her “not to take any comfort” in the fact bail was continued until then.

Headline photo: Emergency services attend a blaze in the Millarston area of Paisley

By Ricky Kelly

Main writer for Renfrewshire News

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