Man set homeless person’s sleeping bag on fire in murder bid

Graham Moffat was caught on CCTV footage setting fire to the victim's sleeping bag in Glasgow.

A man has admitted trying to murder a homeless person by setting fire to his sleeping bag.

At the High Court in Glasgow on Tuesday 52-year-old Graham Moffat pleaded guilty to attempting to murder the man just before 2am on August 2, 2018 in East Campbell Street, Glasgow.

Moffat was caught on CCTV footage pulling out a lighter and setting the sleeping bag alight, before walking away.

Prosecutor Liam Ewing said: “This took place at a set of steps at the main entrance to the Lodging House Mission.

“Around 10.30pm he arrived with the intention of sleeping there for the night. He lay in his sleeping bag with the hood partially covering his head – and fell asleep.”

The court heard that around 1.56am he was woken by heat, fumes and smoke coming from the bottom of his sleeping bag.

He realised his sleeping bag was on fire and managed to unzip it, scramble out and then beat out the fire with his arms.

Mr Ewing added: “There were no flames, only smoke. After putting out the fire he went back to sleep.”

Later that morning he told staff at the Mission what had happened and showed them the damaged sleeping bag. They contacted the police.

Police viewed video footage of the incident at the Mission and then  left and as they walked along East Campbell Street spotted Moffat, who was still wearing the red jacket.

He was searched and had six lighters in his inside jacket pocket.

The CCTV footage was not shown in court, but Mr Ewing said: “The accused stops next to him and puts his hand inside his jacket and then walks away,

“He then turns back towards the victim, who is sleeping. A naked flame is seen in the right hand of the accused. He then bends down towards where he is lying and remains in this position for 10 seconds.

“The accused then steps back and walks away from him.”

Defence counsel Sarah Livingstone said: “Mr Moffat, who is also homeless, has a history of schizophrenia.

“He was examined by a psychiatrist who said he was fit to plead and that he was not unfit at the time of the offence. However, his behaviour on the CCTV footage is odd.

“There was no injury to the complainer in this incident.”

Judge Lord Matthews deferred sentence on Moffat for a background report and told him: “In view of the current emergency this will be adjourned until May 26. If we are still in lockdown it may have to be adjourned further.”

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