19th Jan, 2019

Man staying at ex-partner's home to look after child started fire

WHILE staying at his ex-partner’s Leamington home to look after their child while she did jury service, a young man became angry when he realised she had someone else in her life.

And when Devon Hall returned to collect his belongings after being told to go because of his behaviour towards her, he started a fire in a cupboard under the stairs before leaving.

Fortunately, his former girlfriend noticed the smell of smoke in time to tackle the fire before it could spread to the stairs, Warwick Crown Court has heard.

Hall, of Oldlands Walk, Swindon, Wilts, was jailed for three years after pleading guilty to arson being reckless whether lives were endangered.

And the 21-year-old was given a consecutive six-month sentence for other offences including assault, fraud, causing damage and sending threatening communications.

Prosecutor Graeme Simpson said Hall and his partnerhad been in a relationship for three years, and had a ten-month-old child, but they separated in October 2016 and she moved to Leamington.

When his partner was summonsed for jury service she asked Hall to come to stay with her so that he could assist with child care – but they regularly argued.

And he became angry when he found out she was seeing someone else, and even sent a message to the man threatening to stab him.

His ex partner asked Hall to leave, and when he refused she went to see two male friends who returned with her for ‘moral support,’ and Hall eventually left the house.

But he returned just two minutes later, asking if he could collect his belongings. He was allowed back into the house, and it was then he started the fire.

His former partner and the two men managed to get the blazing item, a pushchair, out and into the garden, noticing Hall had ignited a toilet roll in order to start the fire.

Hall made his way back to Swindon where he was later arrested.

Nick Devine, defending, said: “The difficulty with arson cases is that once the act has been put into effect, the outcome can be minor or extreme. Fortunately in this case, it was minor.

“This appears to have been a reaction to a set of circumstances. What he actually did was spontaneous, and there was no accelerant.”

Sentencing Hall, Recorder Andy Easteal told him the outcome could have been much worse.

He added: “What you did could have been catastrophically dangerous. When you set that fire there is no doubt you did so without intending any serious harm to anyone.

“It was easily extinguished, and no serious harm was caused – but it could have killed someone, it could have killed your own child. What you did was deplorable. It created a dreadful risk.”

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