Vengeful dad put relatives' lives at risk in caravan arson attack, court told

6:30am Thursday 6th February 2014

By Neil Hunter

A VENGEFUL dad who put the lives of seven relatives at risk in an arson attack was behind bars last night (Wednesday, February 5) - as his family revealed they have forgiven him.

Jason Robbins recruited friend Shaun Cliff to set fire to his sister Stephanie's caravan - and carry out a threat he had made months earlier at the height of a feud.

The caravan was just feet away from the Stockton home of the siblings' parents - where Miss Robbins was living with her three children and younger sister.

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A judge said that it was "pure chance" a police patrol was passing shortly after the blaze was started and prompt action stopped it spreading to the house.

Recorder Julian Smith, sitting at Teesside Crown Court, told the pair: "It is terrifying to think what might have happened if the police had not been passing."

Robbins, 36, and 27-year-old Cliff were jailed for two years and three months after they admitted arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

Andrew Turton, for Robbins, a father and removal man, said he had little memory of the attack after downing lager and spirits and taking "illicit prescription drugs".

The court heard how the drink-addled pair went to the property in Thornaby Road in the dead of night on June 14 last year after filling a petrol can up with fuel.

Prosecutor Paul Cleasby said they fled after starting the blaze and added: "It is only really by good fortune this matter was detected before it became more serious."

Duncan McReddie, for Cliff, said the former electrical engineering trainee had suffered from chronic depression but had to accept he went along with the plan.

"He was severely under the influence at the time," Mr McReddie told Mr Recorder Smith. "However, he understands that that does not mitigate this offence.

"It does, perhaps, explain why he was deprived of normal judgement which might have led him to say 'no, this is not a good idea'."

Mr Turton added: "Clearly, this appears to have arisen out of a family dispute, so a serious incident has now apparently been resolved within the family.

"Jason Robbins is in the dock looking down the barrel of a prison sentence . . . the family have rallied, bridges have been built and at least that's something good."

The sister, parents, partner and employer of Robbins, of Dover Road, Stockton, were among the people who wrote to the judge to portray his better side.

Mr McReddie said Cliff, of Walton Court, Stockton, had struggled with alcohol problems, and added: "He is probably heading for a period of sobriety."


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