TWO men involved in an arson attack on a family home are starting prison sentences totalling more than 14 years.

The attempted petrol bombing took place in the early hours of the morning as the family-of-six, including three triplets, was sleeping at the property in Ouston, near Chester-le-Street.

Durham Crown Court heard the device appeared to have been aimed at the back door of the house in The Oval, at about 1.30am, on December 9, 2016.

A man at the house woke up and, when he went downstairs, became aware of burning, initially believing it may be a kitchen appliance which had caught light.

But he discovered the rear door and paintwork was scorched, although fire failed to take hold and spread.

It was reported to police and the fire brigade attended later to check the damage.

In following weeks three men were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit arson with intent to endanger life.

Appearing at the crown court on January 13 last year, one of them, Bilal Havid, now 24, of Chester Burn Close, Pelton Fell, admitted the charge.

Havid was remanded in custody to await the outcome of cases involving the two co-accused.

A 36-year-old man from Pelton denied the charge at that hearing, as did 39-year-old Tony Mitchinson Walker, of Ridgeway, in nearby Birtley, when he appeared by video link a week later.

The pair went on trial at the court in May, but a jury was discharged before it reached a conclusion on the sixth day of the hearing, and it was only after a retrial in December that Walker was found guilty.

But, the 36-year-old co-accused was cleared by the jury following that five-day hearing, and sentence was adjourned on Havid and Walker, who remained in custody in Durham Prison, in the intervening period.

Tony Hawks, for Walker, said there was little he could say on his client’s behalf, as he denied the offence, but Glenn Gatland, for Havid, said he has used his time usefully while in custody awaiting sentence.

Judge Christopher Prince said their deliberate actions could have put the sleeping family at risk.

He jailed Walker for nine years, and, mainly because of his early guilty plea, Havid was given a five-and-a-half year prison sentence.