A woman who claimed she set fire to her flat in a pagan ritual gone wrong was yesterday jailed for three years.

Patricia Swift caused £50,000 worth of damage to her Cherwell Housing Association home in Iffley Road, Oxford, claiming she was burning everything a man who was trying to kill her had given her, Oxford Crown Court heard.

Swift, 50, admitted arson with recklessness endangering life at an earlier hearing. Rose Wallace, who lived above Swift, had to be rescued from her flat.

Peter Coombe, prosecuting, said Miss Wallace had been the victim of a five-year hate campaign, with Swift spitting at her, pushing a lighter through her door and leaving wood outside her flat.

He added on the afternoon of the fire in November three days before Swift was to be evicted Miss Wallace heard her shout up the stairs: "burn, fat cow, burn".

Swift initially told police she was burning her things as she was being evicted, then said she had lit the fire to stay warm, before finally telling police she was performing a pagan ritual.

Sangita Modgil, defending, said: "She was conducting a ritual which for all concerned got out of hand. She in no way meant to cause any hurt to anyone."

She added that Swift had alcohol and drugs problems, but she denied shouting "burn, fat cow, burn".