Convinced people were outside to kill him, Daniel Terrence Brooks set his apartment alight to get the police's attention.
However, Brooks was suffering from drug-induced psychosis when he started the Brisbane fire that caused significant damage and panic, forcing a neighbour to jump from her balcony.
Brooks, 48, was "fried off my head" on ice when he set his apartment alight in an 11-storey South Bank hotel in July 2020.
Experiencing auditory hallucinations, delusions and intense fear, Brooks believed people were outside his door and they wanted to kill him.
"He became obsessed with the idea that there were people out to get him and barricaded himself in his room," crown prosecutor Elizabeth Kelso said.
Unable to call police because his phone was dead, Brooks came up with a plan.
He believed a fire would not only get the police's attention but also create a chance to escape undetected with other residents as they evacuated the building.
After setting his unit alight, Brooks was seen by a neighbour punching a window and screaming before they called emergency services.
A first floor resident jumped from her balcony to escape the blaze, breaking her ankle.
Parts of the unit complex - which was near multiple high rises in the heart of South Bank - were falling to the ground when a "very large" emergency services contingent arrived.
"It (the fire) could have been horrific in its results," Brisbane District Court Chief Judge Brian Devereaux said.
Multiple crews quickly had the fire under control but it still caused extensive damage to the building, with insurers paying out more than $500,000.
Brooks eventually evacuated his unit but armed himself with a small knife "in case the people were out there".
He surrendered the blade without incident when approached outside the unit complex by police.
Brooks was detained under an emergency examination authority and taken to hospital for smoke inhalation treatment and assessment.
Brooks later told police he had been consuming ice and had not intended to hurt anyone with the fire.
He felt shame, embarrassment and relief no one was seriously hurt, the court heard.
Brooks was on parole and had been living in the apartment less than a month.
A psychiatrist's report read to the court said Brooks had a lengthy history of substance dependence but did not have a primary psychotic illness.
However it said Brooks had experienced multiple similar episodes of at times florid psychosis and acted dangerously on meth in the past.
The report said Brooks had entered a drug-induced psychotic state in July 2020 and had no idea that he had once again lost touch with reality.
"You clearly thought people were there to kill you," Chief Judge Devereaux said.
The offence was the 41st entry in Brooks' criminal history.
It included a three-year jail term for breaking into a school and setting fire to the principal's office.
Brooks on Thursday pleaded guilty to endangering a particular property by fire.
He was sentenced to four years in jail.
But Brooks walked free after it was suspended for four years, with 600 days in custody declared time served.