A BARMAID set fire to an old station house on a caravan park where she had been living and working in “revenge” after being evicted from the property, a court heard.

Lindsey Norma Dent set out to teach the park general manager “a lesson” after she told her to leave and placed her belongings ready to be collected, on January 31, last year.

But, Durham Crown Court was told that after she made several visits to the property, on Dale View Caravan Park, Middleton-in-Teesdale, to collect her things, she started the fire within the old house, even returning some time later to check if it had taken hold.

Richard Bennett, prosecuting, told a trial jury that the by early hours the following morning the smoke turned to flames, but by the time the fire service was informed and got to the house, on Station Bank, it was too late to save the building, which was almost completely destroyed.

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Mr Bennett said in the aftermath of the fire the defendant went on to tell several people she was responsible for starting the blaze, even going to some lengths to outline how she had done it, claiming it was in revenge as she believed one of her dogs was abused by the site manager, Leanne Palethorpe.

The court was told the background to the case came about after Ms Dent was introduced to Miss Palethorpe and was employed as a barmaid at the site, in the spring of 2017.

By November that year she told Miss Palethorpe she had accommodation problems and was allowed to move into the old station house, also known as “the bunk house”, on a modest monthly rental.

But she soon fell behind with those payments and made several excuses as to why she was in arrears.

Mr Bennett said this, combined with Miss Palethorpe’s concerns over the state of the house, which smelled of faeces and urine from the defendant’s dogs, she was asked to leave.

Not only was there the odour from the dogs’ business, but she believed the animals were responsible for damaging some of the furniture.

As one of the dogs was locked in the house when Miss Palethorpe went to move Ms Dent’s belongings, she contacted the RSPCA, which came to collect it as a rescue animal.

Outlining the prosecution case, Mr Bennett told the jury Miss Palethorpe shared photos reflecting the state of the house on Facebook, stating what a disgusting condition it was in.

But he said Ms Dent, however, was of the view that her dog had been abused by Miss Palethorpe.

“She was very angry at being turfed out of the property and that her dog had been taken by Miss Palethorpe, and, it’s the prosecution case that she went to the house and started the fire.

“That was the view of the forensic fire examiner and the police, who knew the defendant had been there several times.

“In interview, on February 23, she denied responsibility.”

Mr Bennett added: “The prosecution say this was a lady with a motive to set the fire, with an opportunity to set the fire, and did this to teach Miss Palethorpe a lesson, and did so by setting fire to the property.”

The 43-year-old defendant, of Sun Street, Bishop Auckland, denies a charge of arson being reckless as to whether the lives of others was endangered.

The trial continues today.