‘Annoyed’ man set fire to his girlfriend’s parents’ home – then texted her saying ‘burn, baby, burn. He-he’

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A MAN who set fire to the home of his girlfriend’s parents has been jailed for more than five years.

David Kelly was annoyed as she had taken a foreign holiday with her parents, leaving him behind, Durham Crown Court heard.

Prosecutor Paul Newcombe told the court Kelly sent text messages to his girlfriend in Corfu, boasting about what he had done.

Mr Newcombe added: “One of the messages read: ‘Burn baby burn, he-he’.

“Another read: ‘I am burning you out, you pushed me too far, you reap what you sow.

‘You’ve got nothing left, nor has your mum and dad – enjoy your night’.”

The court heard Kelly was seen to pour petrol through the letterbox of the house in Kirkham Road, Newton Hall.

Mr Newcombe added: “He lit a rag and pushed that through the letterbox.

“Kelly was seen to speed away in his van.

“A neighbour called the fire brigade and they arrived promptly and put out the fire.

“Fire damage to the house was limited, but the porch suffered structural damage.”

Kelly told police he had tried to stamp out the fire and was sorry for what he had done.

Kelly, 43, of Hartside View, Pity Me, admitted arson being reckless as to whether life would be endangered on June 22.

He has previous convictions for dangerous driving, criminal damage and importing class A drugs.

Susan Hirst, defending, said in mitigation: “Mr Kelly has not offended for 11 years, so this was out of character. He knew the house was empty, and having learned his lesson, will not do this again.”

Judge Christopher Prince jailed Kelly for five years and four months, and told him: “This was a pre-meditated act of revenge.

“You may have been fairly sure the house was empty, but you put firefighters’ lives at risk and any members of the public who may have tried to check if the burning house was unoccupied.

“I cannot accept your claim you tried to put the fire out, you were seen screeching away in your van and you did not call the fire brigade. Not content with that, you exalted in what you did by sending the texts.”

Kelly was made the subject of an indefinite restraining order.