Jacob Quinn had been drinking and smoking a synthetic form of cannabis when he went out with the initial intention of stealing.
He went to a supermarket for firelighters to set the blaze so he could get into the empty property on the site of the old hospital in the early hours of the morning.
The 20-year-old claimed he had been with a group of people whom prosecutors said were “plainly not there”.
He has now accepted he was the only one who started the fire at the door of the house on Celsus Grove, Okus.
Quinn, of Conan Doyle Walk, Liden, pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered when he appeared at Swindon Crown Court.
Colin Meeke, prosecuting, said the defendant, who suffers from autistic spectrum disorder, had entered the plea in a written statement.
Quinn said he had been drinking alcohol and smoking Haze, a type of synthetic cannabis, on the night of Saturday, September 27, into the following morning.
Reading from the statement, Mr Meeke said Quinn revealed he had been aware the house was unoccupied so he decided to break in and see if there was anything to take.
He said he knew the door was double-thick so he decided to damage it by fire – and then put the blaze out – to gain entry.
“I went to Tesco’s to buy various items, one of which was a handheld fire extinguisher,” Mr Meeke read.
“I set fire to a piece of cardboard then put barbecue firelighter on it.
“We became aware there were some neighbours and put the fire out with the fire extinguisher and waited for the police.”
Mr Meeke said when officers arrived on the scene the fire was not active but was still smouldering.
He said the defendant explained his condition had led to him naming people he thought were with him but he was mistaken.
“I accept I was on my own after reading witness statements from neighbours,” Quinn’s statement said.
Mr Meeke said: “It was extremely foolhardy and reckless in the English sense of the word to set a fire in a terrace, whether or not you have a small fire extinguisher.
“ The risk of it spreading wider was always significant especially with plastic doors – as Your Honour knows when fire takes hold in plastic it is very dangerous.”
He said police described finding a “fire spray” and he would check that is what the defendant was referring to when he said he had a fire extinguisher.
Rob Ross, defending, said he had already obtained a psychological report on his client which he would hand to probation and the court.
He asked if Quinn’s bail conditions could be altered so his curfew could either be at his mother’s home, on Conan Doyle Walk, or at an address in Shrivenham Road.
Judge Tim Mousley QC adjourned the case to Wednesday, January 7 and released Quinn on conditional bail until then.
He said: “The fact that I am putting it off for a pre-sentence report is no indication that there won’t be an immediate custodial sentence.
“You have pleaded guilty to a serious offence which I have indicated might very well result in a prison sentence for you: a sentence of detention.”
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