A man who started a blaze at his Whitley home has insisted he never meant to harm anyone by starting the fire in the middle of the night.

John Marshall told a judge "I had no intention of hurting anybody whatsoever and I did go next door and bang on the door and get them out of the house."

The 57-year-old had just pleaded guilty to a charge of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered when he made the claim.

Marshall was appearing at Swindon Crown Court on Friday by video link from Bullingdon prison in Oxfordshire and judge Tim Mousley QC was telling the defendant he would be brought for sentence at a later date when he interrupted to say he hadn't meant any harm.

He admitted starting the fire at the housing association property on Eden Grove, Whitley, between Melksham and Corsham, on Saturday, January 25.

And Colin Meeke, prosecuting, told the court that children and families were endangered by the blaze, which was started shortly after midnight.

Neighbours, including some with primary school aged children, had to flee their home as the fire took hold.

The case was adjourned until Friday, April 4 for pre-sentence and psychiatric reports.