Pictured: The Sunderland couple whose false petrol bomb threat claims saw neighbour spend 30th birthday behind bars

Colin Steel
Colin Steel

An innocent couple were questioned by police after their neighbours made false arson threat claims against them during a bitter cul-de-sac feud.

Amanda Peverley spent some of her 30th birthday behind bars and her partner John Miles was interviewed over fake claims that they had threatened to burn down or petrol bomb the house next door.

But Newcastle Crown Court heard the lies told to the police by neighbours Jaqueline and Colin Steel were exposed by a council CCTV camera, which proved the threats they had claimed were made against them were completely untrue.

By then, police had wasted 145 hours investigating the fake claims and Miss Peverley and Mr Miles were left traumatised by their ordeals after being wrongly accused.

The court heard the Steels had claimed Miss Peverley and Mr Miles had stood on a grassed area outside their homes at Allendale Square, Sunderland, and shouted the sinister arson threats in October 2015.

But prosecutor Angus Taylor told said CCTV and audio footage from a camera on one of the neighbouring houses "obliterated" the story and showed Miss Peverley actually on the phone to Northumbria Police, making a report about damage to her car - making no threats.

Mr Taylor said; "It shows Amanda Peverley walking around the grassed area, not going anywhere near the vicinity of the house owned by the Steels."

Mr Taylor told the court the video and audio footage showed "absolutely no threat whatsoever" being made to the Steels.

In a victim statement, Miss Peverley said she had plans to celebrate her birthday on the day she was arrested and added: "My youngest child cried for two hours that day, he was frightened I had been taken away.

"I became nervous and anxious, scared of more allegations and I would be arrested again."

Mr Miles, who was questioned but not arrested, said he was "angry and upset" .

He added: "I cannot believe anyone could make a false statement to such and extent that my partner was arrested and I had to speak to the police.

"If not for the camera, we would both probably have ended up in court and possibly lost our house."

Jaqueline Steel, 55, and Colin Steel, 57, both of Allendale Square, admitted perverting the course of justice.

Judge Robert Spragg told them: "There is obviously a difficult background here concerning Amanda Peverley and John Miles in a cul-de-sac where there appears to have been ongoing dispute at Allendale Square.

"The local authority fixed a camera.

"It was that camera that revealed the lies you were telling about Miss Peverley and Mr Miles.

"You described threats being made by them, threats to commit criminal damage by burning your premises down or using petrol bombs.

"Those are serious allegations which could carry custodial sentences.

"You gave descriptions of what they were doing, which have been proved to be entirely untrue."

The judge added: "It may well be you have had serious and genuine problems with your neighbours but the way you went about it was not the way to deal with it at all."

Judge Spragg sentenced both of them to 27 weeks imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, with a three month night time curfew.

Jonathan Harley, defending Jaqueline Steel, said there had been a history of complaints from "both sides" between the warring neighbours about anti-social behaviour and criminal offences.

He said Mrs Steel was at her "wits end" and had had false allegations made against her, including claims that she was behind the damage done to Miss Peverley and Mr Miles' car, which was untrue.

Mr Harley said the mum, who has previous convictions in the distant past, has been a law abiding citizen for the last 20 years and has lived at her home for 23 years.

He added "She has always got on very, very well with the neighbours in the area.

"They had a very nice community spirit.

"It is just unfortunate she has been embroiled in what turned out to be such an acrimonious dispute with the complainants."

The court heard Mrs Steel is a carer for her husband.

Jamie Adams, defending the husband, said the couple have been deeply affected by the situation and things got "out of hand".

He added: "This has been a very sorry episode."

Jaqueline Steel

Jaqueline Steel

The case was heard at Newcastle Crown Court

The case was heard at Newcastle Crown Court