CRAZED Mark Simmonds has been jailed for life for burning down his estranged wife s home then trying to trick police into killing him.

The 37-year-old called police after the arson attack and pretended he was armed because he wanted to be shot dead by a marksman.

Simmonds, of no fixed address, admitted arson with intent to endanger life when he faced Chichester Crown Court.

The court heard he went to estranged wife Michelle s house in Morrison Court, Broadfield, with a can of petrol after being served divorce papers in January.

Timothy Spencer, prosecuting, explained: He wanted the police to believe he was armed in order to get the marksmen to kill him.

Details of how he was finally arrested were not given in court but no shots were fired.

Simmonds was branded highly manipulative and a danger to women he had associated with in the past in a psychiatric report.

And Judge Anthony Thorpe has ordered an inquiry into how the defendant lied his way into jobs in care homes for adults and children.

Abdullah Al-Yunusi, defending, insisted Simmonds checked his ex-wife and her two children from a previous relationship weren t home and that neighbours houses were empty before starting the fire. He declared one reason Simmonds wanted to die was that his wife would benefit from a life insurance policy.

He also claimed his client had been abused as a boy and had a personality disorder.

Judge Thorpe said: The arson attack on your wife s home was a very grave offence with potential for great harm.

Your subsequent attempt to commit suicide by inviting the police to shoot you, believing you were armed, is a matter of great concern to me as I am bound to consider the safety of the public.

The judge also revealed parts of a medical report describing Simmonds as highly manipulative and well able to control his behaviour in circumstances that suited him .

He added: The whole tenure of the medical report is such that you should not be released until such time as the authorities can be satisfied you are no longer a danger to the public as a whole and to female members of the public in particular.