Beauty salon

A human fireball that torched a beauty salon made a ‘terrible error of judgement’

A construction worker who set himself on fire in a beauty salon fire has had his prison sentence reduced following a legal challenge.

Judges at the Edinburgh Court of Criminal Appeal rejected a request to spare Alexander Bill a jail sentence, but ruled the 32 months imposed on him was excessive.

They overturned the sentence given to him by a sheriff and jailed him for 27 months.

The 35-year-old was jailed earlier this year after admitting to intentionally setting fire to a front door and hallway at premises in Bothwell Street, Hamilton on May 11, 2020.

A beauty salon in the building suffered the worst of the £18,000 damage caused by the fire.

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Bill and another man were seen at the scene and fuel was poured before the fire broke out and ignited the couple.

Bill was taken to hospital after the fire and underwent plastic surgery and skin grafts on his hands.

Lawyers for Bill, of Netherplace Crescent, Glasgow, have appealed against the prison sentence imposed on him following his conviction.

Defense barrister Iain Paterson told the appeal judges: ‘I would say that in our day and age sentencing an individual like him to jail should be a sentence of last resort.

He argued that a custodial sentence was inappropriate and that Bill could be dealt with by a community reimbursement order with unpaid work and other measures.

Mr Paterson said: “It’s a serious offence. There’s no getting away from it.” He added: “It was clearly a terrible error of judgment on his part.”

He said the father-of-two had worked continuously for many years but suffered a relationship breakdown and the loss of his job.

“He then got involved with alcohol and drugs and with the wrong peer group. It was a catalog of disasters for him,” he told Lord Matthews, sitting with Lord Boyd of Duncansby.

Mr Paterson said that since the offense Bill had taken steps to resolve his issues and added: ‘He has demonstrated an appropriate understanding of the malevolence of this type of offence.’

He said that if the judges were not with him on his argument that a non-custodial sentence could be imposed, then the sentence imposed on Bill could be considered “excessive” given his personal circumstances and his obvious remorse for the crime.

Lord Matthews said they were confident the Sheriff had the right to jail Bill, who had never been jailed before, for the offense but accepted there was strength in the argument according to which the sentence was excessive.