A STUDENT terrified her flatmates when she went on the rampage with a homemade blowtorch at their Southampton home after suffering problems fitting in at university.

Southampton Crown Court was told how Sabrina Winfield stormed through the hallway of a shared house with a makeshift flame-thrower as horrified housemates looked on.

The court heard how the attack took place at a six-bedroom shared house in Brighton Road, Southampton in October last year.

Prosecutor Audrey Archer told the court how residents began noticing Winfield was behaving "eccentrically" shortly after moving in the previous month to the house where other residents had already established friendships.

The court heard how things came to a head on October 15 when Winfield played loud music until 5.30am and then advanced through the corridor wielding the blow torch.

It was heard how flatmate Ashton Weller went into the passageway after hearing a "banging" sound and seeing an "orange glow" around the frame of his door and saw Winfield with the makeshift device.

Miss Archer told the court: "He feared for his safety and felt it [the heat] coming in his direction."

The court heard how when he and another flatmate asked what she was doing, the student replied: "I'm trying to get your attention."

Police were called and Winfield was arrested where she refused to answer any questions.

The flames had caused blistering to the paintwork around Mr Weller's door, the court was told.

The incident came after police had previously been called to the house on October 2 when Winfield had gone to the building's first floor and started screaming abuse at her flatmates and threatening to burn the house down, the court heard.

On that occasion another housemate was so terrified they were on the brink of climbing out of the window to escape.

In mitigation, Alistair Wright, said that his client, now working as a waitress, had no previous convictions and was struggling with mental health problems.

He told the court: "It was more the fear factor - which Miss Winfield recognises. She was trying to get their attention and points towards someone looking for some form of help."

But handing her a four month prison sentence suspended for two years after she admitted the charge of arson, Recorder Richard Mawhinney said: "What you did was potentially very dangerous and very frightening. If you do anything stupid like this again within the next two years you will be back here again."

Winfield, 22, of Blackthorns, Sleaford, Lincolnshire, was also ordered to complete 100 hours unpaid work and carry out a 20 day rehabilitation order.