A MAN torched his own car parked outside the home he shared with his partner, while in a drunken rage, a court was told.

Due to the ferocity of the blaze, started with petrol poured from a chain saw, near neighbours had to be evacuated from their homes, amid fears that sparks may lead to it spreading to their properties and risk a possible gas blast due to the proximity of supply pipes.

Durham Crown Court heard that the blaze burned out Shaun Almond’s own Toyota Rav-4, parked in the street outside his partner’s home in Walker Street, Bowburn, on March 31.

But it also caused minor damage to nearby properties in the terraced street, including cracking of windows, and damage to a gas supply pipe which had to be made safe by gas engineers.

Nicholas Lane, prosecuting, said the couple had been in a relationship for only a few months at the time of the incident.

His partner had gone on a visit to see Almond, who she had known since childhood, in Stranraer, Scotland, where he had lived for as number of years, last October.

Her return to County Durham was delayed due to lockdown restrictions in place at the time, but when she did come back to her home in Bowburn, Almond joined her.

Mr Lane said at first everything went well in the relationship, but, as time went on, she noticed a change in his behaviour, as he drank more frequently and became more argumentative.

The court heard Almond was arrested after struggling with police having been pulled up for drink driving, in December, several months before the recent arson incident.

Almond, 47, admitted reckless arson, driving with excess alcohol, resisting arrest and assaulting an emergency worker.

Vic Laffey, mitigating, said the defendant kept out of trouble for almost a decade until his return from Scotland to live with the woman in Bowburn.

But Mr Laffey said it brought back “bad memories” of living in the area from his “unhappy childhood” and, “things began to unravel pretty quickly”.

Mr Laffey said it culminated in him, “causing complete mayhem in the street”, arising from his excessive drinking.

Judge James Adkin said apart from destroying his own car, Almond, “caused a significant risk of serious physical harm”, to neighbours and their properties at a time children when were in the street.

He imposed a 45-month prison sentence and banned Almond from driving for three years and ten months.