Arsonist who torched Chesterfield RSPCA shop has scared staff after breaching ban

The RSPCA charity shop, at the Market Hall, in Market Place, Chesterfield.

The RSPCA charity shop, at the Market Hall, in Market Place, Chesterfield.

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An arsonist who torched an RSPCA shop in Chesterfield has continued to scare staff by twice breaching her restraining order and coming near the store.

Catherine Marie Coulton, 47, of Alexandra Road West, Chesterfield, had originally been given a suspended custodial sentence and a restraining order for setting fire to the shop at the Market Hall, on Market Place, in a revenge attack after her guinea pigs had been taken away by the charity.

But Chesterfield magistrates’ court heard on Wednesday, December 2, how Coulton was twice found within 20metres of the shop at the Market Hall, on Market Place, despite a two-year restraining order banning her from the area.

Prosecuting solicitor Gillian Foxcroft said: “She was seen by staff at the RSPCA within the vicinity of the shop on the afternoon of October 20.

“Staff did not feel safe after she had previously set the shop on fire and they had to start keeping a look-out for her.

“They are mostly volunteers at the store and it is difficult for the charity to find workers.

“Coulton also breached the order on November 9 when she made a call to police that she was outside the shop and had breached her restraining order and wanted to be locked up because she said custody was the only place she felt safe.”

Coulton pleaded guilty to twice breaching her restraining order and for committing the offences during her previously imposed suspended sentence.

Defence solicitor John Wilford told the court Coulton suffers with paranoia and she has found it difficult to accept that she has not been sectioned or admitted to hospital.

He said: “She had felt agitated about the circumstances in which the RSPCA became involved in her life.

“In the first breach of the restraining order she was agitated and made no attempt to contact anyone and she was just in the vicinity but it was just a case of her mere presence.

“She breached the order the second time because she didn’t feel safe in her own home with a previous partner who she thought might come back and she wanted to be locked up.

“She knows that the issue with the RSPCA and the guinea pigs has gone and she no longer holds feelings about this matter.”

Magistrates stated that they felt it would be unjust to activate her existing suspended sentence and put her behind bars but marked the breaches by imposing a rehabilitation activity requirement for five days.

She was also given a four week custodial sentence suspended for 12 months and ordered to pay £345 in costs and charges.

The RSPCA charity shop was originally set on fire in February and Coulton was initially sentenced with a suspended sentence and a restraining order for arson in March.