England: An Oxford witch who claimed that a fire which damaged her flat, and several others in the same building, was caused by a spell going wrong failed to impress the jury. She was found guilty of arson and jailed for three years.
Patricia Swift, 50, said that she had been performing a ritual to ward off a man who had threatened to kill her. The ritual did not involve phoning the police, or seeking an injunction, but instead required her to place a number of items on the floor and set them on fire. When the fire went out of control, she tried urinating on it to put it out. Strangely, the incident occurred three days before Ms. Swift was due to be evicted, and her relationship with her neighbours was not good.
[Peter Coombe, prosecuting,] told the court:Rose Wallace, who lived above, described enduring a long history of abuse over a five-year period.
On the day of the fire, Miss Wallace heard the defendant making a lot of noise in her flat, throwing furniture around.
Shortly afterwards she smelled smoke and called 999. She went to the door and heard the defendant shouting, 'Fat cow, burn, fat cow, burn'.
Swift initially gave a another reason why she set the fires:
I was burning my things because they are going to evict me. She made up the spell story later.
Spell for flaming disaster—Metro, 22nd May 2006 (thanks, Norman).