A SPURNED father who torched a love rival’s high performance car has been jailed.

Daniel Ward set fire to a BMW M3 while it was parked outside his former partner’s house, knowing she was inside with their young daughter and her new boyfriend.

The 21-year-old was jailed at Durham Crown Court after Recorder Ian Atherton told him it was so serious he could not suspend the sentence.

The arson attack was carried out on May 7 last year in Brandon, near Durham, while the couple were in bed.

Prosecuting, Jon Harley said: “Mr Ward asked if he could visit and his former partner said: ‘No leave us alone, like I have said, I am with someone else now.’”

The court heard she saw Mr Ward outside her home, walking around her new partner’s car but they ignored him.

Mr Harley said: “They went to bed and got up to hear a crackling noise.

“They got out of bed and saw that the vehicle was on fire.”

Ward’s ex-partner phoned the police and called him to remonstrate with him about the damage.

The court heard he accepted responsibility during the call, which was being recorded, but denied even being there when he was arrested and interviewed by police.

The victim of the case, who works as a bolt technician, has suffered from anxiety and nightmares since the incident and has missed work as a result.

Ward, who had no previous convictions, of Sandringham Road, Crook, was charged with arson but denied the offence until the day of trial when he changed his plea to guilty.

Mitigating, Matthew Collins said pictures of damage to the £17,000 car made him realise how serious it was.

Mr Collins said: “Mr Ward accepts that the relationship between him and his partner is over but they do have a child together.

“I have spoken with him and he is remorseful for the effects of his actions.

“He is very sorry for what he has done and apologises.

“It was not a premeditated offence.

“It was an offence borne out of immaturity and stupidity.”

Ward was jailed for 18 months and will serve half in custody and the remainder in the community on licence.

Recorder Atherton said: “It was a revenge attack and the value of the property is relatively high. It is a serious offence and without hesitation I pass a sentence of immediate custody.”