Tenant threatened to burn his flat down

High Peak Magistrates Court, Buxton.
High Peak Magistrates Court, Buxton.

A Buxton man threatened to burn his flat down because he wanted somewhere better to live, a court heard.

Andrew Skermer had been living in a flat on Sherwood Road but had given up the tenancy to move to Harpur Hill, High Peak Magistrates’ Court heard.

But after failing to collect the keys to his new address, Skermer was then advised to go back to his Sherwood Road address, which he still held the tenancy for, prosecutor Jennifer Fitzgerald said.

When he arrived there on August 22, he found council staff changing the locks but as he was still officially the tenant, he was told to go into the flat.

Once inside, he said to one of the council staff, John Waller, ‘I’ll burn it down’.

Mr Waller immediately called police and Skermer was arrested. Officers asked him if he had intended to burn the flat down and he said ‘if I stay’.

He told police he thought if he burnt down the flat he might get moved to another property as he was not happy with his current flat. He said the Sherwood Road flat was in a terrible state because he hadn’t looked after himself properly for a while.

He added that he didn’t intend to carry the threat out, Mrs Fitzgerald said.

Skermer, 41, of South Street, denied threatening to damage/destroy property but was found guilty after a trial.

Annis Rowlands, defending, said: “This is very complicated, it is not simple.

“He has lived in a number of addresses including a flat at Eagle Parade which the police moved him from because certain individuals liked to bully him and take money off him.

“This incident occurred on the Friday of a bank holiday weekend. The timing may have a great deal to do with it.

“His flat was cold, there was no heating and he wanted to move.

“He gives his keys back to the council then goes to the Citizens Advice Bureau and says he is homeless.

“They say go back for your things. He goes back and is confronted by Mr Waller and his colleague changing the locks.”

Skermer has learning difficulties, the court heard, and Ms Rowlands added: “This gentleman is shortly to be 42 years of age. He behaves in a very childlike, vulnerable and naive manner but occasionally he can be difficult to engage with.”

Chairman of the Bench Michael Hilton said: “It seems to us, on the face of it, this is a potentially very serious manner.”

Skermer was given a two-year community order with supervision. He was fined £110 and must also pay a surcharge of £60 and £130 costs.