Lifestyle & Belief

Bee O’Brien, jobless and starving, reportedly tries to set British employment center on fire for jail food


A homeless man named Bob waits for donations from passing motorists on October 11, 2012 in Camden, New Jersey. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Camden, New Jersey is now the most impoverished city in the United States with nearly 32,000 of Camden's residents living below the poverty line.


Spencer Platt

An unemployed British man who reportedly hadn't had any food in three days threatened to set a job center on fire so that he would get arrested and receive meals in jail, according Britain's Manchester Evening News.

The report, which could not be immediately independently confirmed, quoted O'Brien as saying:  “I will commit a crime and get arrested. I need some food.”

According to the Evening News, the 49-year-old was pushed to the brink while arguing over his benefits with customer service at the Moss Side job centre.

Moss Side employees allegedly asked O'Brien to leave and threatened to call the police.

Then what happened, Manchestor prosector Helen Veitch told the court, was an employee "heard a clicking noise" and saw the accused holding a ciagrette lighter in a threatening manner, said the Evening News.

“He tried to set fire to the phone cable, then went to another phone and repeated the action," according to Veitch. "He said – ‘Yes, I’m setting fire to this to get arrested’.”

O'Brien's defense attorney Gina Clayton said O'Brien was acting under duress. "His benefits had been stopped for some reason and he hadn’t eaten for three days," she told the court. "He was simply desperate for some food."

O'Brien has plead guilty to charges of attempted arson, damages, and threatening behavior. 

He was taken into custody, where he was also reported to have rather inexplicably thrown hot chocolate all over his jail cell. 

O'Brien has been ordered to do community service and volunteer work.