A JUDGE has jailed a woman who torched her friend and neighbour's flat for 21 months.

Victim Margaret Russell told police she had only ever helped Hannah Ridgley when she was short of money or suffering abuse at the hands of partners.

But Minshull Street Crown Court was told that Ridgeley became convinced Miss Russell was having an affair with her boyfriend.

Rachel Widdicombe, prosecuting, said on May 4 Miss Russell was preparing to go out when Ridgley turned up on her doorstep, carrying a bag of leaves.

Ridgley started shouting that she was going to "stab every girl that talks to my boyfriend" before threatening Miss Russell directly, the court heard.

Miss Widdicombe said the defendant also threatened to "burn her out" while her friend tried to call her down, suggesting she get some sleep and she would feel better. Ridgley left briefly and Miss Russell went out with a friend.

Because of a problem with her front door Miss Russell, who lived above Ridgley at a block of flats in Beechcroft, Prestwich, could not lock it properly, the court was told.

Shortly after she departed another neighbour, Michael Bowring, heard Ridgley shout she would burn Miss Russell's flat as "Maggie is no friend of mine".

Minutes later he heard the block's fire alarm sounding so he called the police and fire service. Ridgeley could be heard shouting "fire, fire".

Miss Widdicombe said when Miss Russell returned later she found Ridgley escorting an elderly neighbour from the building.

Police and fire fighters arrived on the scene shortly afterwards and found a fire in the victim's front room, which had damaged a sofa, curtains and other furniture.

Ridgley, now of Spring Lane, Radcliffe, was arrested but declined to comment when interviewed. She later pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

Gwen Henshaw, defending, said her client had expressed her remorse for the fire and accepted it was fortunate there was not more serious damage.

Ridgley had endured a traumatic childhood and now suffered from a personality disorder and depression, the court heard.

Miss Henshaw said there was "still a realistic prospect of rehabilitation" for the defendant despite her difficulties.

But jailing her, Judge Tina Landale said there was an element of pre-planning with the offence and a number of people had been put at risk by her actions.

Judge Landale added: "It is the case that you present a high risk of serious harm to the general public."