Hospital patient caused almost £50,000 damage after smoking while using oxygen mask

by San Eli News

A hospital patient caused almost £50,000 of damage after smoking a cigarette from his bed while wearing an oxygen mask.

Lee Williams, 44, sparked a mass evacuation at the largest hospital in Wales after ignoring repeat warnings not to smoke in bed.

Dozens of sick people had to be evacuated as the fire sent thick smoke through the ward at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.

Cardiff Crown Court heard the extensive damage meant the ward was forced to close for two weeks, 38 patients had to be moved, and medical staff had to receive treatment due to smoke inhalation and shock.

Andrew Kendall, prosecuting, said in May 2019, Williams was an inpatient at UHW and had been for around two weeks before the incident.

His treatment meant he needed oxygen and a nebuliser.

On May 7, a nurse went to see Williams but she found him smoking and he appeared to be asleep.

The nurse later said she believed he was smoking spice due to the condition she found him in, and put his smoking materials away in a cupboard.

She later warned him against smoking and the dangers it presented but Williams said he “did not care” and would smoke if he wanted to.

When the same nurse revisited the patient, she described him as “agitated”.

He then spat on her back as she left, forcing her to change her clothes, and he tried to gain access to his smoking material.

Despite multiple warnings, staff on the C5 ward were alerted to a fire in Williams’ cubicle on May 8.

They arrived to find a blaze spreading quickly across his bed and Williams with mouth injuries and a “blackened nose”.

The patient, of Treherbert in Wales, required emergency treatment and was connected to a defibrillator.

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

An investigation revealed that “smoking while using an oxygen mask” was the “probable cause” of the fire.

The blaze caused £47,500 worth of damage and the closure “added pressure to the rest of the hospital,” Mr Kendall explained.

Williams admitted assaulting an emergency worker and arson with intent to endanger life in relation to those matters.