Man sent taunting texts to girlfriend after setting light to her family home (From The Northern Echo)
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Man sent taunting texts to girlfriend after setting light to her family home in Durham
A MAN unhappy at being left at home while his girlfriend was on holiday abroad took revenge by starting a fire at her family home.
David Anthony Kelly then triumphantly taunted his girlfriend, who was with her parents in Greece, texting her with messages such as: “Burn baby burn”.
The family was initially fearful the house may be destroyed or badly damaged while they were stranded midway through their break on Corfu.
It was only when they contacted neighbours that they were assured the fire brigade was quickly called out to prevent the blaze spreading beyond the porch area of the property, in Newton Hall, Durham.
Kelly, 42, of Hartside View, Pity Me, Durham, who admitted arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered, was today (Tuesday August 20) jailed for five years and four months, after a judge branded it an act of, “pre-meditated revenge”.
Durham Crown Court heard it took place when Kelly “snapped”, having drunk alcohol and taken cocaine, following a two-way flurry of volatile texts with his girlfriend, on Saturday June 22.
Paul Newcombe, prosecuting, said he was seen filling two jerry cans at a filling station, late that night.
He then went to his girlfriend’s family home, in Kirkham Road, poured petrol around the front door, before lighting a rag and pushing it through the letter box.
Mr Newcombe said a neighbour saw Kelly driving away at speed in his van, at about 10.30pm.
The fire brigade was alerted and a crew extinguished the blaze, restricting it to the porch area of the semi-detached house, which suffered some structural damage, but it had not spread to the neighbouring home.
Kelly sent texts to his girlfriend, which included: “You and your mam and dad have got nowt left, hee hee.
“Burn baby burn. Smokin! You’re lower than a snake’s body.
“I’m burning you out. You pushed me too far. You will reap what you sow. Enjoy your night!”
He also rang her in Corfu telling her she should call the fire brigade.
Kelly was arrested the following day and told police he “just snapped” after arguing in texts with his girlfriend, who he claimed had been “winding him up”.
He claimed he tried to stamp out the fire, but this was doubted by Judge Christopher Prince, given a neighbour's observations of him fleeing the scene.
Susan Hirst, mitigating, said it came at a time when there were up to 60 daily texts, many volatile, going between Kelly and his girlfriend during her holiday.
She added that he has now learned his lesson from this incident.
Jailing him, Judge Prince told Kelly he could have put the firefighters or passing members of the public at risk.
"This was a pre-meditated act of revenge.
“You left the fire to burn and teased her with texts. You exulted in what you had done.”
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