A NUISANCE neighbour who bombarded the emergency services with more than 260 calls in a year and then set fire to her flat twice has been given a community order.

Annick Johnson, 56, of Cossington Road, Westcliff, called emergency services “numerous times” for false alarms in the year up to two arson attacks in her own flat.

Johnson set fire to a newspaper by the front door of her flat on January 30 this year, but called 999 and pretended tramps had followed her home and started the fire.

She was arrested on suspicion of arson, but while on bail, she set fire to more of her stash of newspapers on February 1.

She was remanded in Holloway Prison for ten weeks before admitting two charges of arson.

At Johnson’s sentencing at Basildon Crown Court on Thursday, Jacqueline Carey, mitigating, said she had turned a corner in her alcohol consumption since her time in jail and had been clean from drinking for nine months.

Judge Jonathan Black sentenced her to a two-year community order, which will also see her complete a six-month alcohol treatment course.

He said: “These are serious offences and you must realise the court has to treat this with the upmost severity.

“It is to your credit you accept you were the person who started the fire. I have been told by probation you have abstained from alcohol. I am not 100 per cent certain that is the case.”

The court previously heard, although the damage was minimal, a fire officer said the blazes could have been “very serious”, particularly as her neighbour Andrew D’Allesandri’s door was directly above Johnson’s door, which had the potential to block his family’s only escape route.

Mr D’Allesandri 53, who also had an application for a restraining order against Johnson turned down, said in a statement he had “a lot of sleepless nights and stress” when emergency services attended her address.

After the sentencing, he said: “My wife and I have lived here for three years, but had we known what she was like, we wouldn’t have moved here.

“She would call the emergency services a lot which not only wasted taxpayers’ money, but stopped them going to emergencies. Thankfully it has stopped since she has been locked up.”

A spokesman for the ambulance service said: “We received 266 calls between February 2013 and February 2014. We responded 54 times and we conveyed a patient to hospital seven times.”