TWO patients and a member of staff at a Hampshire mental health unit were taken to hospital suffering from the effects of smoke after another resident started a fire in a bathroom.

Gemma Avery, 27, who suffers from a borderline unstable personality disorder with impulsive actions, mood swings and self harming, had got drunk the night before on unescorted community leave.

Gavin Sumpter, prosecuting at Southampton Crown Court, said she told staff she had been anxious about being discharged from the unit at Southfields Hospital, Calmore, where she had been sent under a mental health order imposd at Newport Crown Court for possessing a bladed article. Staff kept an eye on her and when checked at about 1.30pm, she was in the bathroom and said she was fine.

But within minutes screams brought staff to the bathroom where they saw smoke billowing from under the door. Avery then appeared with a trouser leg and slippers on fire. A duvet was used to smother the flames.

Mr Sumpter said that a bin had been set alight and a lighter was found in Avery’s pocket. The fire and ambulance services had to be summoned because of the amount of smoke and two patients and a member of staff were taken to hospital. Avery was also treated for burns to her feet, he added.

“She was arrested that evening and when interviewed made full admissions, saying she had started the fire and had wanted to harm herself. She realised others could have been injured because of her actions and expressed remorse,” said Mr Sumpter.

Avery, of no fixed abode, admitted arson when reckless to whether the lives of others might be endangered.

Ordering her to be detained in hospital with no restriction of time, Recorder Stuart Jones QC told her: “Everyone understands you have problems and they are doing their best to bring you back into a positon where ultimately you can lead a life as normal as possible.”