• STV
  • MySTV

Pensioner torched his own home over partner's illness

Sydney Galloway, 84, and Margaret Leadbetter had to be rescued from the house in Girvan.

Fire: Galloway walked free from court (file pic).
Fire: Galloway walked free from court (file pic). PA

An 84-year-old man who torched his house because he could not cope with his partner's failing health has walked free from court.

Sydney Galloway and his partner Margaret Leadbetter, also 84, had to be rescued by firefighters as their home in Girvan, South Ayrshire, collapsed around them in November last year.

Galloway confessed to medical staff that he had started the fire and later admitted it at the High Court in Glasgow.

Judge Lady Rae admonished Galloway - a punishment under Scots law where the accused is found guilty but allowed to walk away from court.

She said: "I have already indicated that in this particular case, despite the serious nature of the offence, custody is not the right route and would not serve justice, in the particular circumstances put before me.

"I have thought very carefully about what alternatives are available to me but I have to have regard to your particular personal circumstances."

Lady Rae added: "In the very unusual circumstances of this case in my view the proper disposal is an admonition, you are free to go."

'Margaret wasn't even on my mind, funny enough, you know, because she is the most important person as far as I was concerned.'
Sydney Galloway

Galloway, who had taken five sleeping tablets and some whisky, put timber and furniture behind an inner door of the house and poured petrol in the living room and hallway. He then lit a match and went to bed.

During a police interview Galloway said he had been struggling to cope with looking after Ms Leadbetter and doing all the household tasks.

He said: "I doused the living room and hallway with petrol and set it alight using a match.

"Before I'd set it on fire I took sleeping tablets. Maybe about five or that and a good half tumbler of whisky. I was enough to make me do what I done."

He said he wanted to kill himself but not his partner, although he knew she was in the house at the time.

Galloway added: "Margaret wasn't even on my mind, funny enough, you know, because she is the most important person as far as I was concerned."

Ms Leadbetter suffered minor burns in the fire while Galloway had burns to his back, buttocks and both feet.

Download: The STV News app is Scotland's favourite and is available for iPhone from the App store and for Android from Google Play. Download it today and continue to enjoy STV News wherever you are.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. At least 6 characters please. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
At least 6 characters please
ShowHide
This field is required. At least 6 characters please.
You have to be 16 or over to join
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
Type your full postcode and select your address This field is required. It doesn't look like you've entered a valid postcode. Can't find your address? Confirm the details you've given us are correct by clicking here

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, including our Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy. Any issues contact us.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.