Arsonist who used 'flaming toy' as weapon loses his appeal
AN ARSONIST, jailed for three years after turning a cuddly toy into a flaming weapon, has failed to convince top judges he was too harshly punished.
Duane O'Pray, 21, of Firsby Crescent, Grimsby, soaked the soft toy in lighter fluid before setting it on fire and hurling it at mum Becky Murphy as she opened the door to her home last August.
He pleaded guilty at Grimsby Crown Court in October to arson and breaching a community order and conditional discharge and was sent to prison.
He appealed in London this week, but Lord Justice Pitchford, Mrs Justice Sharp and Sir Geoffrey Grigson said there was nothing wrong with the length of the sentence.
The Court of Appeal heard O'Pray went to Mrs Murphy's home in Coningsby Drive, Grimsby, intending to scare a member of her family with the flaming toy. When she answered the door, he panicked and threw it, before turning and walking away from the scene "casually", Sir Geoffrey said.
Mrs Murphy, who described it as "like a ball of flame", suffered only slight singeing to her arm. Her two-and-a-half year old child had been in the house at the time.
O'Pray already had a string of convictions to his name, including for carrying a weapon, assaults, criminal damage and battering his own mother.
The sentencing judge handed him the prison term for arson and no separate punishment for breaching the court orders, which had been imposed for earlier offences.
His lawyers argued that three years might have been appropriate if the offence had been reckless arson, but not the less serious offence he committed.
Sir Geoffrey said: "What we have to consider is whether a sentence of three years for this offence is manifestly excessive – we are not persuaded that it was.
"This was a serious offence of arson. The appellant has a bad record and the learned judge didn't impose any separate penalty for the other offences.
"In the circumstances, we uphold the sentence of three years and this application must be dismissed."