A man with mental health issues was discharged by care practitioners just weeks before launching a series of arson attacks in Kingston, a court has heard.
Barry Davies, 52, pleaded guilty to 11 counts of arson between December 15 and December 18 last year, including seven in Kingston town centre.
In each case, he entered a shop and torched an item of clothing using a lighter, causing chaos as Christmas shoppers were forced to evacuate the stores.
At Kingston Crown Court yesterday, Michael Green, defending, told Judge Richard Southwell his client had a background of mental health problems.
He said Davies, of Roxborough Avenue, Isleworth, had been diagnosed as bi-polar in 2007, and sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
He spent three months in a mental health facility.
Mr Green said: “His home circumstances are very difficult. His father is bed-ridden and has dementia, his mother is registered blind and his sister is an agoraphobic.
“He is effectively a full time carer for his family members.”
Davies was on medication for his health problems, and had been under the care of the West London Mental Health NHS Trust.
But Mr Green said: “The mental health team saw fit to discharge him from their care in November, leaving it up to him to decide when to take his medication.”
On December 15, Davies set fire to clothes in Marks and Spencer and TK Maxx in Ealing. Over the next two days, he started fires in Sainsbury’s in Richmond and Debenhams in Wandsworth.
On December 18, he travelled to Kingston, setting fire to garments in Reese, White Stuff, Monsoon, both Marks and Spencer stores, Gap and Superdry. The fires brought the town centre to a standstill, as both the Bentall Centre and M&S were evacuated.
Davies appeared via video link from Wandsworth Prison, where he has been in custody since his arrest.
He spoke only to confirm his name and to enter his plea.
A spokesman for West London Mental Health NHS trust said: “We cannot comment about the specific nature of an individual’s care. However both care plan and discharge decisions are based on comprehensive clinical assessments, which include an assessment of risks, based on the presentation of the individual at that time.
“Where concerns are raised by family members, we always work with them as far as we are able to, giving clear advice about what to do if they are concerned about their relative’s immediate wellbeing.”
Davies will be sentenced following the completion of psychiatric reports.