A 29-YEAR-OLD man who admitted wilfully setting fire to his own flat in Melrose has been ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work.

Thomas Baigan also pleaded guilty to possessing an imitation firearm, with intent to cause harm to his mother, following the incident at St Dunstan's Park in January 2021.

Jedburgh Sheriff Court heard Baigan had already spent seven months on remand in prison in connection with the incident.

His lawyer said he had been having some problems with his mental health and there was no support for him during COVID.

Emergency services were alerted around 9pm when neighbours saw smoke coming from the top floor flat.

Officers found a small smouldering fire in the centre of the living room, along with a number of weapons.

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When Baigan, who had left the property, returned, he asked, 'What's going on?', to which an officer replied: "There's been a fire." Baigan added: "I know, I started it."

A subsequent search by police found he had a revolver in one pocket and a lock knife in the other.

Procurator fiscal Fiona Hamilton, prosecuting, revealed the gun had ball bearings in it, but couldn't be fired because it had no gas.

Baigan – who gave an address in Peebles – stated he was being haunted by his dead step-father and wanted to scare his mum.

Passing sentence, Sheriff Peter Paterson warned him the community payback order – with supervision for 21 months and 200 hours unpaid work – was a direct alternative to custody.