Daft patient caused £50k damage to hospital after trying to smoke in oxygen mask

A hospital patient caused almost £50,000 of damage after he caused a fire by smoking in bed, forcing dozens of sick people to be evacuated.

Lee Williams, 44, sparked the blaze at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff after repeatedly ignoring warnings that he could not smoke.

Cardiff Crown Court heard Williams lit a cigarette while wearing an oxygen mask and caused a serious fire in his room.

The fire sent thick smoke through the ward, and the extensive damage meant it was forced to close the area for two weeks.

In this time, up to 30 patients had to be moved and medical staff had to receive treatment due to smoke inhalation and shock, WalesLive reports.

Prosecuting, Andrew Kendall said in May 2019 Williams was an inpatient at the hospital and had been there for two weeks before the incident.

His treatment meant he needed oxygen and a nebuliser, but on May 7 a nurse went to see Williams and found him smoking what she believed to be spice.

She took his cigarette and put his smoking materials away in a cupboard and the nurse and a registrar later returned to warn Williams against smoking and the dangers it presented.

On May 8, staff on the C5 ward were alerted to a fire in Williams' cubicle and arrived to find a quickly-growing blaze on his bed.

He had a "blackened nose" and injuries to his mouth and Williams had to be connected to a defibrillator and required emergency treatment.

Mr Kendall said the staff rushed into the "smoke-filled room" with several later needing treatment themselves.

An investigation found "smoking while using an oxygen mask" was the "probable cause" of the fire.

The damage is estimated to have cost £47,500 to the NHS trust and the closure of the ward "added pressure to the rest of the hospital."

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Williams admitted assaulting an emergency worker and arson with intent to endanger life.

Mr Jones said Williams was "remorseful" for his actions, which he has little recollection of, and said Williams "may have been in a state of confusion through self-medication."

He also said Williams has had alcohol and drug misuse issues since childhood.

Judge David Wynn Morgan told the defendant that "selfishness" was behind his desire to smoke.

Mr Morgan said: "You were told in the clearest terms you could not smoke in the hospital.

"The dangers of fire were made clear to you. Your response was: 'I don't care, it is my decision to have a cigarette'.

"You put at risk the life of the doctor who rushed to treat you, the two nurses who helped, the security staff who put out the fire, and the 38 patients who had to be evacuated in the thick smoke."

Judge Morgan handed Williams, of Baglan Street, Treherbert, a total jail sentence of five years in custody.

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