Man jailed for setting fire to a trans woman’s home in hate-fuelled arson attack
A man has been jailed for setting fire to a woman’s home in a transphobic attack.
Lee Harrison, 43, was sentenced to five years and eight months behind bars over the arson attack on the woman’s flat on the outskirts of Sheffield, according to the BBC.
Victim faced transphobic abuse before fire attack, court hears
The court heard that Harrison had poured petrol through the woman’s letterbox and set it alight on August 15 last year, after repeatedly harassing her in the street.
Referring to the victim as ‘Steve’, he had told her: “Anyone who is a tr***y offends me; it’s a lifestyle choice.”
Just days before the arson attack, Harrison had shouted at the woman: “I’m going to burn you out.”
Prosecutor Robert Sandford told the Sheffield Crown Court that Harrison was motivated by “hostility based around the fact [the victim] was in the process of transitioning.”
‘I believed I was about to die’
The intended victim was not home during the attack, but her flatmate was, the BBC reports.
The flatmate told the court in a statement: “I could not escape; I was trapped because the fire was coming from the front door and smoke was coming up the stairs.
“I truly believed I was about to die.”
Luckily, the fire did not spread beyond the front door, and it was extinguished by a quick-thinking neighbour.
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The trans woman said she felt guilt “that my best friend could have been killed because of someone trying to attack me.”
Sentencing, Judge Graham Reeds said: “This was an offence aggravated by hostility towards the victim’s transgender identity, which is a very significant aggravating feature.”
Hate crimes against trans people are surging
Alarming recent figures revealed that reports of hate crimes against transgender people have risen by 37 percent in just one year.
The official Home Office data, released in October, confirms that hate crimes against transgender people in England and Wales are growing at a faster rate than for any other protected group.
There were 2,333 reports of hate crimes against transgender people in England and Wales from April 2018 to March 2019, up from 1,703 in 2017/2018.
Anti-transgender hate crime reports have quadrupled since 2014/15, when just 607 such crimes were recorded.