A TEEN arsonist responsible for a series of fires in Penzance and Redruth has told doctors that firestarting was the only way she could deal with emotional problems.
Holly Jehu, 19, is believed to have been responsible for dozens of blazes – offending which she started while still a youth.
While living in Penzance, Jehu was convicted of a number of offences and sent to prison in December 2011.
Following her release she was given accommodation in Redruth but soon returned to her old ways.
Jehu, whose address is listed as Chadwick Lodge, Milton Keynes, had previously admitted three counts of arson and two of attempted arson.
She was handed an interim hospital order earlier this year while doctors assessed her mental state.
She appeared at Truro Crown Court on Friday via video link for sentencing.
Phillip Lee, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said on November 8 last year she set fire to a fire door at Trengweath Day Centre, a building which is owned by the North Kerrier community mental health trust.
She also set fire to a bin at the centre and tried to torch a car parked outside.
He said: “The receptionist arrived there to find that there was the remains of a fire inside the main building ... CCTV accessed showed the defendant attempt to set fire to a car parked in a car park nearby.”
Jehu also admitted setting fire to public toilets on Wharf Road in Penzance, which caused £1,000 worth of damage on November 23 and then returning to Redruth on the same day and trying to set fire to the family building at the mental health facility.
She was arrested by police that night.
Mr Lee said Jehu had a serious of previous convictions for graffiti from 2011 onwards, as well as five for arson.
Consultant psychiatrist Dr Theresa Tattan said she believed a hospital order would be appropriate in Jehu’s case.
“She has made progress but she still has some symptoms of her depressive illness and in my opinion has some symptoms of pyromania,” she said. “She describes a rush of adrenalin when she starts fires, which help her deal with her difficult emotional states.
“She says for her it is the only way she can deal with difficult emotions.”
Dr Tattan described the teenager as a solitary girl whose parents had died when she was very young and advised that she should be placed under a restriction order, which can be used by crown court judges to protect the public from serious harm.
She said: “I think Miss Jehu’s risk of firestarting in the future is directly related to her mental disorders and [those] are such that they will require on going treatment and monitoring.
Judge Christopher Harvey Clark, QC, ordered that Jehu be detained at Chadwick Lodge under Section 37 of the Mental Health Act, indefinitely.
He also imposed a Section 41 restriction order under the same act, which means that if Jehu is released from hospital more stringent procedures will have to be followed that under a hospital order alone.