Ouija board
A homemade Halloween display.Leslie A. Knox

A spooked mother and daughter have been jailed after torching their home following an Ouija board seance.

Self-proclaimed "black witch" Margaret Carroll downed a cocktail of pills with her daughter Katrina Livingstone before setting fire to their Consett, County Durham home, the Chronicle reported.

Durham Crown Court heard that the two had intended to take their own lives, but abandoned their attempt and fled the burning building.

Paramedics and the fire brigade found the pair outside the home at First Street, Leadgate, shortly before 9am on 31 January.

They both admitted guilty to arson – reckless to whether life was endangered. The court heard that the property would need to be demolished as a result of the damage, while the neighbours had been forced to move house.

Dog was 'possessed by an evil spirit'

The incident was not the first time the family had blamed an Ouija board for summoning evil spirits.

Paul Carroll, Margaret Carroll's husband, was given a suspended sentence after drowning and dismembering his Bedlington terrier, Molly last year.

He told police who were called to the house on 10 January that Molly had been "possessed by an evil spirit" following an Ouija board seance on Christmas Eve.

He was given an 18-week sentence suspended for a year, fined £165 and banned from keeping animals for 10 years.

Following the incident, Livingstone's dogs were seized by the RSPCA.

Vulnerable person

Dan Cordey, defending Livingstone at Durham Crown Court, said: "This is somebody [Margaret Carroll] with an extremely difficult upbringing that left her extremely isolated, effectively her only communication was in that extremely close family group.

"She's suffered a number of tragedies, including the loss of her own children who were taken into care. What she took solace in was her dogs."

According to the Chronicle, Tony Davis, who represented Margaret Carroll, told the court she had suffered from psychiatric problems since her mid-20s.

"Following her admission to HMP Low Newton she had very severe problems and was hallucinating believing herself to be involved with the spirit world and considering herself to be a black witch," he said.

Sentencing the pair to four years in custody with two years extended licences, Judge Peter Kelson QC said they had put themselves "before all others around you".

"There was no regard for the safety of anybody else," he told them. "You are both, to use the word in a legal definition, dangerous and you both pose a significant risk of causing serious injury to those around you."