AN 81-year-old Ellesmere Port woman twice tried to set fire to her own bungalow before blaming it on her carers.

The jury at Chester Crown Court took just 10 minutes on Tuesday, July 23 to decide Maureen Walsh had attempted to commit arson at her William Johnson Gardens home on November 27, 2018.

Walsh was not present for the finding of fact trial, having been ruled unfit to stand trial or enter a plea.

The case was adjourned for a psychiatric report to determine her sentence.

Prosecuting, Peter Hussey told the court Walsh had lived in a semi-detached ForHousing bungalow, next door to an independent woman in her 90s.

The fire service was called out twice on November 27 after carers from AMG Nursing and Care Services – who visited Walsh four times a day – detected smoke coming from the kitchen electric cooker hobs.

When police arrested Walsh that night, Walsh asked the arresting Police Constable Louise Lamb: "Has the bungalow blown up yet?"

Giving evidence in court, Luana Dougherty, one of the AMG carers employed to look after Walsh, said she visited at about 12.35pm and saw a plastic tub of butter had been left on the hob, with the electric cooker on full.

Ms Dougherty said AMG carers used to go on their own to Walsh's bungalow, but due to Walsh's bad behaviour they had, in recent months, had to go in pairs.

She asked Walsh what she had done, to which Walsh told the carers to get out of the property, which had been "trashed", with items such as clothes and food thrown everywhere on work surfaces and the floor.

Ellesmere Port Fire Service Green Watch crew manager Darren Jones, in a statement read out to the court, said he had attended the incident and was concerned it was a deliberate arson attempt.

At 4pm, Ms Dougherty has returned to the home with colleague Lesley Heathcock, and they tidied the house. Walsh had by this point "calmed down".

Ms Heathcock told the court she then visited the home at 8.45pm to find Walsh standing blankly in the open doorway.

Inside the kitchen, the sink was overflowing with water, a stuffed tea towel was at the bottom of the sink with both taps on full, with four packets of rice or pasta placed on each of the four electric cooker hobs which were all on.

It was later noted a kettle power cord had also been deliberately placed by the sink, with the risk that would start an electrical fire.

As the carers tried to make the area safe and went outside to call emergency services, Walsh followed them and was aggressive to their faces, the court heard, using foul language.

Ellesmere Port Fire Service Blue Watch crew manager Paul Donaghy was called to the scene, and in a statement, said: "If it was not for the quick actions of the carers, this could have developed into a full fire at the property."

After being arrested, Walsh was interviewed by Detective Constable Mark Hughes at Blacon Custody Suite.

Walsh said she had lived at Richmond Court in Chester until it closed and was placed at the bungalow, and had a brain tumour which was pressing on her ear.

She claimed the carers were "hopeless", wanted them sacked, and as a result of telling them they were sacked that day, she said they had tried to set fire to the bungalow as "revenge".

She told the officer: "The water and the electric do not mix, it could have gone off like a bomb."

Walsh added: "The [arresting] policewoman did me in – I will have her sacked."

The interview heard Walsh had also shouted to the carers: "You f***ing did it, you f***ing b*****ds," shortly before she was arrested.

But the jury unanimously gave the verdict Walsh did the act of attempted arson.

After the jury delivered the verdict, Recorder Judge Stephen Bedford told the court Walsh was currently at HMP Styal – "presumably in the hospital wing".

Defending, Dafydd Roberts asked for the case could be adjourned for six weeks to obtain the psychiatric report.