A man has admitted starting a fire at the home of a woman with whom he had been in an on/off relationship, earlier this year.

John George Middleton admitted arson being reckless as to whether life would be endangered, or property damaged, rather than the more serious form of the charge, of arson intending to endanger life.

The charges arise from a fire started by Middleton at a property in Briardale, in the Delves Lane area of Consett, on Saturday, April 6 this year.

Appearing at a Durham Crown Court plea hearing, via video link from HMP Leeds, where he is detained on remand, the now 30-year-old defendant admitted the reckless arson charge but denied arson with intent to endanger the life of his former partner.

The Northern Echo:

He denied a further charge of assaulting her, causing actual bodily harm, on March 19, this year, but admitted assault by beating, as an alternative.

Middleton, of Ryton Crescent, Seaham, also denied further charges of assault causing actual bodily harm, on March 30, and assault by beating, plus criminal damage to another mobile phone, both said to have been committed between April 4 and 7, this year.

The Northern Echo:

Once Middleton’s pleas were submitted, prosecution counsel, Chris Baker, said the Crown would need to consider if they were to be considered, “acceptable”.

Judge Jo Kidd said the Crown should submit its decisions to the court, by May 30.

See more court stories from The Northern Echo, by clicking here

Man set light to bedding in ex-partner's Leadgate home and walked away

St Helen Auckland arsonist attacked victim in home

Homes evacuated in County Durham when woman started fire in her bath

Get the latest news, sports, and entertainment delivered straight to your device by subscribing to The Northern Echo by clicking here

Addressing Middleton, Judge Kidd said he would receive credit for the guilty pleas submitted to the court and he may be sentenced only for those offences, depending on the outcome of the prosecution deliberations.

But if the Crown wants to proceed to trial on the matters denied by the defendant a start date was agreed for September 18.

In the meantime, she remanded the defendant to remain in custody, pending the hearing on May 30.