Angry man set fire to home as an act of revenge

Darlington and Stockton Times: REVENGE ATTACK: Lee Close REVENGE ATTACK: Lee Close

A MAN who sought revenge on his partner by setting fire to her home has been jailed for more than five years.

Lee Close lit four separate fires at the terraced property in Redcar with the aid of a can of petrol, having sent the victim a threatening message saying he would “burn her out”.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Close had set out with revenge in mind after discovering some of his clothes had been burnt and dumped in an alleyway while he was out drinking in the pub – a discovery which led to a number of angry exchanges between the pair.

He was said to have made a “cursory search” of the house in Charlotte Street to check no-one was in before carrying out the attack on the afternoon of April 21 this year.

Prosecutor Sue Jacobs said there were four seats to the fire, in two of the bedrooms, a hallway and kitchen. Close was also seen by a witness carrying a can of a petrol in his hand, while firefighters reported a strong smell of petrol at the scene.

Close, 44, of The Parklands, Redcar, admitted arson, being reckless as to whether life was endangered. The blaze caused neighbouring properties to be evacuated, although no-one was injured.

Andrew Foster, mitigating, said Close did not fully appreciate the impact of what he did at the time.

He said: “There has been an issue with the relationship and he wants no further contact with the lady in question.

“He accepts what he did was dangerous, but it was out of character. He has undertaken a course of conduct while in drink and is extremely remorseful and regretful of his actions.”

The Recorder of Middlesbrough, Judge Simon-Bourne Arton told Close:

“This was a pre-meditated act of revenge.

“You took a petrol can to cause as much damage and harm as you could.

You were setting out to cause harm by destroying her home and all the belongings in it.”

The judge said the starting point for the offence was eight years, after a trial, but reduced the sentence on Close to five years, four months after his guilty plea.

He also added a further 14 weeks to the jail sentence after Close admitted breaching a suspended sentence previously imposed on him.

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