Lance Corporal David Thomas was kicked out of the Army, admitting arson (Picture: Solent News and Photo Agency).
Army

Soldier kicked out of Army after starting barracks fire trying to get high on boot polish

Lance Corporal David Thomas became disorientated after sniffing the fumes from the burning tin and dropped it on the floor.

Lance Corporal David Thomas was kicked out of the Army, admitting arson (Picture: Solent News and Photo Agency).

A British Army soldier has been kicked out of the military after he tried to get high by setting fire to boot polish but sparked a blaze at his barracks instead.

Lance Corporal David Thomas became disorientated after sniffing the fumes from the burning tin and dropped it on the floor, before wandering off, a court martial heard.

Without him knowing, the polish then set fire to a sofa in the common room where he'd lit it, setting off the smoke alarm and forcing fellow squaddies to put the blaze out with a fire extinguisher.

The 28-year-old admitted causing £1,600 damage with the fire to the sofa and 'scorched' carpet and has now been dismissed from the Army after pleading guilty to arson.

Bulford Military Court in Wiltshire heard that the incident took place in nearby Tidworth Garrison in January 2020 when LCpl Thomas decided to get high using the polish.

Certain shoe polishes are classified as 'dangerous goods' due to their high flammability and can release toxic fumes when set alight.

Major John Griffiths, prosecuting, explained how the potentially dangerous situation unfolded.

"The location for the fire was the service live-in accommodation block at Tidworth Garrison," he said.

(Picture: Solent News and Photo Agency).

"On that day (January 16 2020) LCpl Thomas, who was living in the block, went to one of the common rooms on the ground floor and decided to get himself a legal high by setting fire to and sniffing shoe polish.

"He lit it inside the tin and became disorientated, and the shoe polish fell to the floor. LCpl Thomas then went upstairs and didn't report the fire."

He continued: "It was only later when the fire alarms went off that it was discovered the tin continued to be on fire and had set fire to a sofa in the common room.

"The fire had spread upwards and the flames had caught underneath the sofa.

"The attention of others in the block came to the sofa and they used a fire extinguisher to put out the fire and moved the sofa - which had to be replaced – outside.

"Attention was drawn to LCpl Thomas as some reported him as acting suspiciously and having got rid of his shoe polish.

"During interview, he explained he had tried to get high and should have checked on what had happened.

"In terms of damage, the cost totals £1,625.11."

Lance Corporal David Thomas at Bulford Court Martial CREDIT SOLENT NEWS AND PHOTO AGENCY
The court martial heard LCpl Thomas has found a new job at a garage (Picture: Solent News and Photo Agency).

Dismissing the 'reckless' soldier, Judge Advocate Alistair McGrigor told him: "You were in a very troubled state of mind due to both your personal and professional life.

"You decided to get high by sniffing shoe polish in the common room of your accommodation.

"You became disorientated and dropped the tin on the floor. It scorched the floor and an old sofa.

"Luckily, it was spotted and extinguished – but, clearly, you were reckless in your actions.

"Your behaviour and the potential consequences means that you and the Army must part ways.

"We have also considered whether compensation should be ordered but we have had sight of the items damaged, which already looked extremely tired, and have been told you are without money at this time."

Defending, Andrew Stone told the court martial LCpl Thomas had found a new job at a garage and was looking forward to starting a new life outside of the military.

Despite calls for a compensation order to be made from Maj Griffiths, the court heard LCpl Thomas had little more than '£10' to his name and was also the subject of an Individual Voluntary Arrangement to pay off his debts.

LCpl Thomas was dismissed from the military and given an 18-month community order.