Woman admits lighting hospital fire

A patient who lit a fire in a room at Princess Margaret Hospital’s Seager Clinic has admitted a charge of arson.

A psychiatric report will be prepared ahead of the March sentencing of Angela Maree McDonald, 37, to suggest how the case should be disposed of.

Defence counsel Tony Garrett and the police asked for the report at the Christchurch District Court appearance today. Mr Garrett said there were “some health issues”, but there was secure accommodation available for McDonald during the remand and bail was not opposed.

He said McDonald had not spoken of any intention to light any more fires and had no ill-will towards the other clinic resident whose room was the scene of the October 10 fire.

McDonald pleaded guilty to the arson charge at an appearance before Judge Tom Gilbert.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Paul Scott said McDonald and the victim were both patients at the Seager Clinic.

He said McDonald saw the victim leave her room and then entered the unlocked room, taking the woman’s name tag from the door.

She placed the tag on the bed and lit it on fire using a lighter. She then set light to fabric draped over a small table, before returning to her room to wait for the fire alarm to sound.

“The victim’s bed, beside table and personal belongings were destroyed. There was smoke damage and significant water damage from the sprinkler system,” said Sergeant Scott.

McDonald admitted to police that she had lit the fire. She said she wanted to destroy everything the victim owned.

Judge Gilbert asked for a pre-sentence report for the March 7 sentencing, which will cover her suitability for a home or community detention sentence, as well as the psychiatric report.