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Thursday, 15 March, 2001, 22:22 GMT
'Ghost' drove mother to arson attack
court graphic
A woman has been jailed for arson after claiming that she set fire to her own home because she believed the curtains were haunted.

Adele Gallivan - a 40-year-old mother -, admitting arson at her semi-detached council house in Barry, south Wales.

But she told Cardiff Crown Court she had seen ghostly "smiling faces" in her curtains.


It was her genuine belief that there was an unhealthy presence in that house which caused her problems for some time

Defence solicitor Peter Heywood

When police arrived she told them: "I'm not going back into that house - there's a poltergeist in there."

Prosecutor Raymond Lewis told the court how a neighbour spotted the fire after Gallivan called round to her home in the early hours of the morning.

Mr Lewis said: "The neighbour saw the curtains were on fire and Gallivan said: 'Don't call the police'."

The neighbour insisted on calling the fire brigade, but Gallivan told her: 'Let it burn', Mr Lewis added.

'Abusive'

"She said there were faces in the curtains and that they were smiling at her.

"She said that she was going to bed and waking up and looking 60 years old in the morning. She blamed something in her home for what she looked like."

Police arrived at the house but Gallivan became "abusive" to them, the court heard.

Gallivan was said to have told the police :"I'm not going back into that house - there's a poltergeist in there. It's my house, I can do what I like".


She said that she was going to bed and waking up and looking 60 years old in the morning. She blamed something in her home for what she looked like

Raymond Lewis, prosecuting

Fire officers discovered two seats of fire in the living room.

Between 1,000 and 1,500 damage was caused to the house owned by the Vale of Glamorgan County Borough Council.

Peter Heywood, defending, said: "It was her genuine belief that there was an unhealthy presence in that house which caused her problems for some time."

Gallivan, of Gaspard Place, Barry, admitted arson and was jailed for 15 months.

Sentencing her, Judge Peter Jacobs said: "Arson is a very serious offence which normally reflects in a long prison sentence."

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See also:

22 Nov 00 | Wales
For sale: House with ghost
20 Mar 00 | UK
Britain's favourite haunts
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