A WOMAN has been detained in a mental health unit after admitting torching her home.

Amanda Mitchell, 26, was told she will be treated at Runwell Hospital until she is deemed fit for release after appearing in the dock at Basildon Crown Court yesterday. Mitchell was arrested shortly after the blaze at her first floor flat in Holden Road, Basildon, on March 28.

The court heard how the fire began after Mitchell downed a handful of sleeping pills then fell asleep with a lit cigarette.

Investigators could not determine if the blaze was started deliberately, however mum-of-one Mitchell admitted a charge of arson and has been detained at Runwell ever since.

The incident caused flames to tear through to surrounding properties in the Basildon Council-owned block of flats, forcing neighbours to flee. Many had to be re-homed by Basildon Council while their flats were repaired and some were made permenantly homeless.

Passing sentence, Judge Owen Davies told Mitchell “You pleaded guilty to the charge of arson. “The prosecution has been very careful and sensitive in this case and I want to commend them for that. I am pleased to hear you are in hospital and you have been recovering well and are responding to visits from your son and father.

“You must now focus on getting yourself better and I wish you the best in hospital with your recovery.”

He added: “I am satisfied you are suffering from a mental disorder.

“I will make the order you should be detained in hospital.”

Although nobody was injured as a result of the arson, some residents of Holden Road were left so traumatised by the fire they vowed never to return to their flats.

Joyce Holgate, 81, whose home was directly below Mitchell’s, opted to move into sheltered housing after the incident, despite having lived at the premises for 23 years.