Jailed man put fireworks through woman's letter box in a revenge attack

David Gerrard
David Gerrard

A man who put fireworks through a couple's letterbox in a revenge attack has been jailed

David Matthew Gerrard, 28, put a small number of bangers in a cigarette packet, lit them and posted them through the door of a property in Sunderland belonging to a woman and her partner.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that the incident on August 12 this year stemmed from an earlier disagreement over money.

Neil Pallister, prosecuting, said that the victim allowed a family friend to borrow £20 but only £10 had been repaid.

He told the court: "On the afternoon of the 12th the woman went to the address of her friend to get the rest of the money back.

"No one was at home but she saw the woman standing with her boyfriend and Gerrard on the street and went over and asked for her money back.

"The boyfriend became very aggressive and threatened to petrol bomb her house if she didn't go away - he was subsequently given an 18 month conditional discharge.

"At that point the woman returned to her home, which is situated above a chip shop."

The court heard that later that night at around 10pm the victim was watching television when she heard a loud bang near her front door and could smell something like gunpowder or fireworks.

Mr Pallister said that she looked out of her window and saw Gerrard walking towards St Luke's Terrace and then knocking on the door of the woman who owed her money.

She then discovered that two small 'banger' fireworks had been put through the letter box, luckily causing very little damage.

The police were called and arrested Gerrard, who admitted he was the only one responsible.

He told police he did it because he believed the woman had given his name to the police after the earlier incident.

In interview he said that he had found the fireworks in a back lane that night and put them in a cigarette packet to light.

He said that he intended to "scare" the victim and "hurt her a bit" but not seriously harm or kill her. He explained that he did not like the victim and had many run ins with her in the past.

In an impact statement the victim said that she was frightened at what could have happened if the fireworks had set her home alight.

She stated that, as her home is above a fish and chip shop, there is only one entrance and exit to the flat and the gas pipes to the address are behind the one front door which could have had a devastating effect.

Gerrard, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to arson being reckless to whether life is endangered at a previous hearing

Jamie Adams, defending, said: "This is a serious offence but not the most serious of its type.

"Mr Gerrard is a very vulnerable man who has been bullied the whole of his life and continues to be bullied.

"This was an intention to scare and give the victims a fright by using small fireworks that could fit inside a cigarette box and was more than likely told to do what he did by someone else."

Judge Robert Adams told Gerrard: "The risk of a fire may have been small and minimal damage may have been caused but had a fire started, the results would have been catastrophic as there is only one exit to the flat.

"You stated that you wanted to harm the victim and frighten her but I do take into account your vulnerable nature and tough family upbringing.

"It was effectively a revenge attack and my public duty requires me to impose a custodial sentence."

Judge Adams sentenced Gerrard to 12 months in prison.