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Man given hospital order after dramatic Kendal hostel blaze

Carlisle Crown Court

A mentally ill man who started a fire in the bedroom of a Kendal hostel which contained more than a dozen residents has been made the subject of a hospital order by a judge.

Carlisle Crown Court was told today (February 24) how Polish national Patryk Bernas, now aged 26, had initially been involved in an exchange with the manager of Town View Fields, on 27th March last year, just days into the country’s first national Covid lockdown.

Bernas then went to his room and began a blaze before heading outside. As police attended, smoke was seen billowing from the Town View building. Firefighters from the town station just across the road were swiftly mobilised and managed to prevent the incident escalating.

Fourteen residents, including a wheelchair-using man, were inside the hostel at the time, and no injuries were reported.

Around £7,000 worth of damage was caused to the bedroom and Bernas was arrested at the scene. Judge Nicholas Barker observed of Bernas: “It is clear from the (police) body-with footage he was in a disturbed state of mind at the time.”

Bernas had initially been charged with arson but was deemed unfit to stand trial and has not been convicted of a criminal offence. However, a jury did conclude he had done the act alleged after being asked to conceded whether it had occurred after hearing evidence about the incident.

Experts found that Bernas, previously of Winder Lane, Flookburgh, was suffering from a major psychotic disorder, and two certified psychiatrists agreed he should be made the subject of a hospital order. A bed was available and he was complying with treatment being offered, the court heard.

Bespectacled Bernas wore headphones as he listened over a remote video link to court proceedings today as the hospital order was rubber-stamped. Judge Barker said: “There is hope he will be able to move from medium secure (accommodation) to treatment in the community.”