Man attempted to start fire at neighbour's house in revenge for years of abuse (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Man attempted to start fire at neighbour's house in revenge for years of abuse
A MAN who was said to have endured ten years of abuse from nightmare neighbours has been spared jail after he poured petrol over their front door in a bid to start a fire.
Ian Simpson had been assaulted with a bat-type weapon when in the early hours of the morning he took a petrol cannister and dowsed his neighbour's door with fuel.
Simpson's wife called the police and they found him in his kitchen rolling up a cigarette.
The 49-year-old was drunk and told officers: “I want to f'ing kill them. I want to burn their house down.”
Prosecuting, Rachel Masters said police noticed a strong smell of petrol coming from the garden area of the property that the defendant had targeted, while forensic examination later carried out on a letter box showed it was contaminated with fuel.
Ms Masters said officers traced Simpson – who had a lighter seized from him - by following frontprints from the property to his own home, as it had been snowing heavily.
She told Teesside Crown Court there had been a long standing dispute between Simpson and a family living nearby in the South Bank area of Middlesbrough. Stones had been thrown at his home and he was verbally abused, while off-road motorbikes were also ridden up and down the street.
Simpson admitted a charge of attempted arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered on January 19 this year.
His barrister Robert Mochrie claimed he had suffered ten years of constant abuse and stress from his neighbours.
He said: “It was reported to the police numerous times, but they did nothing. He reacted under immense stress and having gone back to the bottle.
“It is something he bitterly regrets.”
Mr Mochrie said Simpson, who had attempted to take his own life, had already spent five weeks in custody. He told the court that he and his wife were now in the process of moving to Loftus, east Cleveland.
Judge John Walford told Simpson: “It is apparent that over a number of years you have been plagued by neighbours who for some reason have targeted you with abuse, missiles and random acts of anti-social behaviour.
“This was intended as a form of revenge and was aggravated by the drink you had taken.”
The judge said that while police should have done more to prevent an escalation of the dispute, the law discouraged people from wreaking revenge on others who had affronted them.
Judge Walford gave Simpson a 18 month jail sentence, suspended for two years, and also said he would be required to attend an anger management programme.