A hospital patient caused almost £50,000 worth of damage to a ward after he attempted to smoke while wearing an oxygen mask.
Lee Williams, 44, caused a massive fire at the University of Wales in Cardiff, leading to dozens of seriously ill people having to be evacuated as thick toxic smoke filled the hospital.
Prosecutor Andrew Kendall told Cardiff Crown Court that Williams was an inpatient at the hospital in May 2019.
During his treatment, Williams was given oxygen. He had been in the hospital for two weeks and was repeatedly found smoking by nurses.
The court heard that Williams told the nursing staff and doctors that he ‘did not care’ about their warnings. During one altercation he even spat on a nurse.
On 8th May, staff on the ward were alerted to the fact that a fire had started in William’s cubicle.
Williams was found to have a ‘blackened nose’ and injuries to his mouth and needed to be connected to a defibrillator and receive emergency treatment following the incident.
The court heard the extensive damage came to the value of nearly £50,000. Numerous medical staff also had to be treated for smoke inhalation.
As a result of William’s actions, the ward was forced to close for nearly three weeks, and 38 seriously ill patients had to be moved to other wards.
Williams – who has 25 convictions for a total of 68 previous offences – admitted assaulting an emergency worker and arson with intent to endanger life.
Judge David Wynn Morgan told Williams he smoked out of ‘selfishness’.
He said: “You were told in the clearest terms you could not smoke in the hospital.
“The dangers of fire were made clear to you. Your response was: ‘I don’t care, it is my decision to have a cigarette.’
“You put at risk the life of the doctor who rushed to treat you, the two nurses who helped, the security staff who put out the fire, and the 38 patients who had to be evacuated in the thick smoke.”
Williams – who was also sentenced for other charges relating to possession of an air rifle – was handed a five-year prison sentence.
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