A WOMAN has been jailed for starting three fires including one that caused more than £100,000 damage to her mother’s house.
Charlotte Godbeer started the blazes at her own rented home in Bradninch, a neighbour’s house and her mother’s house in Sandford, near Crediton.
She was living there as a condition of bail after starting the first fire, in which she pushed a burning wetsuit and mop into the cat flap of her next door neighbour's home in Passmore Road.
Godbeer tried to portray herself as a hero by raising the alarm after the first fire and rescuing her pet cats from the one at her mother’s house.
She was suffering a mental health crisis at the time and was drunk when she started at least two of the fires.
Police found her half naked after the first fire and had to break into her home to rescue her after the final blaze, which she started just hours after moving back into her home in Bradninch.
Officers had to break down the door to get in after she started a small fire in the hallway and they then found her unconscious and drunk on the floor of the living room.
Investigators found evidence of at least one fire at her home before the spate of arson attacks started, with soot on a mattress and large scorch marks on a table.
The fire service had been called to a fire in a bedroom window frame in May but logged it as an accident.
Godbeer, aged 36, formerly of Passmore Road, Bradninch, but now in custody, denied two counts of arson, intending to endanger life and three of arson being reckless whether life was endangered.
She was cleared of the more serious charges of endangering life and convicted of the three counts of reckless arson.
She was jailed for three years by Recorder Mr Mathew Turner, sitting at Plymouth Crown Court. He said that a psychiatric report explained that her alcohol addiction arose out of a history of domestic abuse that had left her with PTSD.
He said: “The pre-sentence report shows that you meet the criterion for dangerousness, but having read the psychiatric report, which was not available to the writer, I do not share that view.
“Since the last offence you have sought help from the addiction services and alcoholics anonymous, which is very much to your credit. You are no longer dependent on alcohol and you have taken steps to engage positively with the mental health team.”
During the trial the jury heard that Godbeer posed as a rescuer, raising the alarm and helping others get out of the buildings which she had set light to.
Godbeer was drunk when she set the fires and was abusive to police and firefighters who attended them.
Mr Peter Coombe, prosecuting, said the three fires were at her next door neighbour’s house in Bradninch on June 13, 2021; her mother’s house at Sunnyside, Sandford, near Crediton on August 23, 2021, and at her own home on September 27, 2021.
He said Godbeer woke the woman who lives next door some time after 11pm on June 13 to tell her that her house was burning and that she was tackling the fire with a saucepan of water. She went on to help her neighbour’s son escape.
She was abusive to her neighbour, police and firefighters, all of whom thought she was drunk. She was later found in the attic of her own home, naked from the waist down.
Godbeer went to live with her mother in Sandford but there was another, more serious fire which broke out in the early hours of August 23.
She woke her mother to say she thought someone was outside but they then heard the crackling sound of fire and the house filled with smoke.
Godbeer escorted her mother out and returned to the building to rescue pets and to tackle the blaze with a hosepipe before the fire brigade arrived and extinguished it.
The fire caused extensive damage and was found to have been started in the boiler room, although the boiler itself was ruled out as a potential cause.
The final fire happened the day she moved back into her home at Passmore Road, Bradninch, where her neighbour spotted a fire at around 11pm and called the emergency services.
Firefighters found the doors locked and bolted but broke in and rescued Godbeer from her living room. She blamed her neighbour for starting the fire.
Miss Holly Gilbery, defending, said Godbeer was suffering from a mental health crisis and alcohol dependency syndrome when she committed all the offences but has done everything possible to address her problems since.