The Carole Compton trial 1983
Some time after the trial, the court in Livorno delivered a written judgement which fascinated Brian Inglis, a prominent journalist with a keen interest in the paranormal. Writing in the Spectator, Inglis said the judgement had created an unusual legal precedent: 'It is, I think, the first occasion when a court has taken into consideration the possibility that there might be a paranormal explanation for arson, or indeed for any crime. The presiding judge, admittedly, declined to accept the explanation, but this was not because he held that the paranormal, being contrary to the laws of nature, cannot be pleaded as within the law of the land, something which judges have quite often asserted in the past. No: his objection was that, if Carol was using some psychic force to start up the fires without intending to, why had there not been similar fires before her arrival in Italy, or while she was in jail?'
Inglis said that the judge was displaying an understandable lack of knowledge of previous cases of this kind, usually attributed to poltergeist activity, which were commonly related to an individual who appears to have built up a charge of psychic energy which explodes around him or her in various ways: hurling crockery around, making banging noises, and lighting fires. Often, however, they cease when the individual is moved to a different environment – another house, or another job. (Here, though, Inglis disregarded the fact that the fires were started in two houses far apart.)
'We shall never know, presumably, whether the fires which started up in the proximity of Carol Compton were "exteriorised" from her psychically, but some of the evidence given at the trial points in that direction. Witnesses described various poltergeist-type phenomena which had occurred while she was around apart from the fires; and some of the fires themselves behaved abnormally'.
On the evidence, concluded Inglis, the influence of the paranormal was 'a far more plausible explanation of what happened to the unfortunate Carol than the one the court settled for: that she was a pyromaniac of such low intelligence that she did not realise, when she was lighting the succession of fires, that sooner or later she was bound to be held responsible for them'.
Many years later, in 2004, Carole Compton resurfaced in a newspaper interview. She told a journalist: 'What happened to me is something that never goes away. It was a dreadful ordeal, but I have a happy life now. I try not to think about the past'. She was living in Yorkshire with her husband, Zaroof Fazal, and their three school-age children.