Jacob Quinn had white spirit, matches and a fire extinguisher in his bag when he set the blaze in the ‘bizarre’ case.
When he was arrested he told police he had escaped from prison and had been with a number of friends, though the people he named could not have been there.
After hearing the 20-year-old, who has autism, had never been in trouble before and was getting help for his problems, a judge imposed a suspended sentence.
Colin Meeke, prosecuting, told Swindon Crown Court how Quinn started the fire at the back door of the house on Celsus Grove, Okus, on Sunday, September 28.
Next door neighbours on both sides of the home were woken at about 4.30am by the sounds and smell of a fire outside, he told the court.
“They shouted at him, he went to try and hide. He could still clearly be seen by a garden shed,” he said.
A neighbour called police and when they arrived Quinn knelt on the grass with his hands clasped behind his head in ‘surrender’.
“He was clearly behaving, in the view of the officers, in a bizarre manner. He had clearly been drinking. He said he had set the fire,” he said.
“He said he had escaped from prison. Officers formed the view, correctly, that he suffered from some mental difficulties.”
When he was questioned he named a number of friends he had been with but checks showed they were not there.
He said he had been drinking heavily and smoking a synthetic cannabis called Haze and had been trying to break into the property by burning the door down.
Quinn, of Conan Doyle Walk, Liden, pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.
Rob Ross, defending, said reports had been prepared by a psychiatrist and psychologist on his client.
He said: “It is apparent that he has a complex set of problems that in many ways have blighted his life to date and will, without help and support, blight it for the rest of his life.”
Describing his client as ‘completely stoned’ at the time of the offence, he said Quinn could recall little of it, which is why he said he thought others were with him.
He said it was important that he addresses his use of any form of intoxicant.
Mr Ross said: “It is apparent from what he says to you that he is ashamed of himself, he doesn’t want to find himself in this situation again.”
Passing sentence, Judge Peter Blair QC said: “I have read a lot about you and I am pleased to have read from the psychiatrist and the psychologist that they don’t think that you present a danger of fire raising and causing problems that could risk other people’s lives by lighting fires.
“It is because of that I am able to reach a conclusion that won’t mean you going to prison today.”
He imposed an 18-month community order with probation, a three month curfew and told him he must comply with the instructions of the Priory College.
And he said should he fail or reoffend he is at risk of a lengthy jail term.
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