A SPURNED man carried out a fire-raising reprisal on his former partner for ending their volatile relationship, but it put her and her three young children at risk, a court heard.

Lee Waite set light to a dog kennel alongside his “ex’s” home in Consett, but it spread to the fascia and frontage of both her and a neighbour’s house, in Oakdale Road, on July 14, last year.

Durham Crown Court was told the mother-of-three became aware of a bright light and looked out to see flames, between 9.30 and 10pm.

She was forced to wake her sleeping children, aged three, five and seven, before evacuating the property.

Susan Hirst, prosecuting, said the fire destroyed the kennel and a nearby wheelie bin, but also badly damaged guttering, fascias, door surrounds and window frames.

The neighbours described the flames as “huge” and said they were terrified.

Miss Hirst said in his later admission Waite said he snapped a cigarette lighter and allowed the fluid to drain out onto the kennel, before igniting it with a lit cigarette.

A senior fire officer said it should have been obvious that the blaze would spread from the kennel and added that had it not been put out as quickly as it was, it could have put the inhabitants of the two houses, “in extreme danger”.

A police helicopter was deployed to try to trace Waite who was not was arrested for three days.

He initially denied responsibility but later admitted arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

Waite, 29, of Iveston Road, Consett, also admitted threatening to damage a car belonging to his ex-partner’s father, sending malicious communications in a “bombardment” of texts and phone messages after she ended the seven-month relationship, and damaging property, by previously throwing stones and a rock at her windows.

Richard Herrmann, mitigating, said a psychiatric report highlighted issues of mild post traumatic stress disorder and alcohol dependence, but Waite was aware he would be receiving an “inevitable” lengthy sentence.

Imposing a prison sentence of five years and four months, Judge James Adkin told Waite: “You chose to set the fire at night, at a time when you knew there must be children asleep in bed.

“There was a high-risk of causing serious physical and psychological harm.”

A lifetime restraining order prohibits Waite from ever contacting his ex-partner.