Bee O'Brien

Bee O’Brien

An unemployed man in Manchester has set fire to his local job centre in order to get a free meal, it has been reported.

Bee O’Brien, 49, set fire to the customer services telephones after a row over his benefits at Moss Side job centre after he hadn’t eaten for three days.

O’Brien said he set the phones ablaze so that he could have a meal in police custody after he got arrested.

He told police: “If you don’t get my money I will commit a crime and get arrested. I need some food.”

O’Brien, of Camelford Close, Hulme, admitted criminal damage, attempted arson, and using threatening words and behaviour when he appeared before Manchester magistrates.

Gina Clayton, defending, said: “His benefits had been stopped for some reason and he hadn’t eaten for three days. He was simply desperate for some food. He went to the jobcentre to get his payments and lost his temper.

“He was aware that if he was arrested he would have been given food at the police station.”

Helen Veitch, prosecuting, told the court: “A member of staff at the jobcentre noticed he was arguing on the customer services advice telephone. He was noted to be aggressive and abusive.

“He was asked to leave the job centre, and was told the staff would phone police. He tried to set fire to the phone cable, then went to another phone and repeated the action. He said – ‘Yes, I’m setting fire to this to get arrested’.”

He was given a 12 month community order and ordered to do 40 hours unpaid work.


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