A man who started a fire at Littlemore Hospital, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage, has been jailed.

Javed Ahmed, of Pound Way, appeared before Oxford Crown Court yesterday for sentencing, after starting a fire the Sandford Road mental health hospital which caused £68,000 worth of damage to the building, and endangered the lives of staff and vulnerable patients.

Alexandra Bull, prosecuting, described the circumstances which led to Ahmed’s arrest at Littlemore Hospital on Saturday, February 16.

The court heard the 24-year-old was taken to the secure mental health centre after being detained under the mental health act.

After being told he would have to sit in a waiting area while a bed was made ready for him, Ahmed began “kicking and punching the doors and walls” of the waiting area.

Ms Bull said: “He picked up a chair and threw it and it broke on the wall.”

Ahmed then barricaded himself into a corridor area and entered an office where he began pulling cables and monitor screens from the walls.

After finding a lighter he was reported to have shouted “Oh yes! I will set fire now until you let me out.”

He then set fire to papers, as well as the cables and monitors he had pulled to the floor.

When police arrived, an officer described the scene inside the hospital as chaotic as there were people running and screaming.

Officers found a way through to Ahmed and arrested him, while special constable tried to put the fire out but was forced to leave the area because of thick black smoke.

Firefighters gave the special constable oxygen and later put out the blaze.

Ms Bull added: “The fire had the potential to cause harm to staff and patients. It is fortunate that the rooms off the corridor were not occupied.”

A psychiatric report read to court said Ahmed did not have serious mental health issues but had probably suffered a drug induced psychosis due to his consumption of cannabis.

For the defence, Michael Goold said Ahmed had pleaded guilty at the first possible instance and had previously been of good character.

Mr Goold said Ahmed was no longer taking drugs and argued he had suffered from significant mental health difficulties before the arson.

“In any view Mr Ahmed has had an extraordinarily difficult and dramatic life,” added Mr Goold.

Ahmed grew up in Afghanistan and fled to the UK as a refugee at 14 years old, after his father had been killed by the Taliban.

Mr Goold said: “Many people of that background would have fallen into criminal behaviour far sooner than Mr Ahmed”

The judge said: “You have cost around £68,000 damage including loss of use of money which belonged to the NHS and could have been used to help people who actually needed help.”

He added: “This was deliberately setting a fire in the hospital. Vulnerable people with mental difficulties were inside that hospital.”

Ahmed was sent to prison for two years and six months, and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £170.