Jury sent home for weekend in arson trial of two Sunderland men

A jury considering its verdicts in the case of two men accused of a series of arsons will resume its deliberations on Monday.

Friday, 9th March 2018, 4:25 pm
Updated Friday, 9th March 2018, 4:30 pm
The scene of the alleged arson attack in 2012.

They were sent home for the weekend by Judge Deborah Sherwin after deliberating all Friday over the cases of Alan Smart and David Roberts.

Smart is alleged to have set three fires, two at houses lived in by rap singer David Baker, and to have set fire to Mr Baker's Audi car.

Roberts is alleged to have driven Smart to Seaham to set one of the house fires and to have driven him away from the scene.

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Prosecutors claim the target of all three fires was Mr Baker because he owed money to a drug dealing associate of Smart.

Mr Baker is also said to have enraged Smart by recording two rap songs which were "disrespectful" to him.

During five weeks of evidence, the jury heard the most serious fire was at Princess Road, in Seaham, where Mr Baker was spending much of his time with his partner Vicki Barnes.

Peter Makepeace, prosecuting, said Mr Baker was not at home at the time and that Ms Barnes was woken by what she thought was an explosion.

He added: "Ms Barnes then managed to squeeze through a tiny gap in her bedroom window, lower herself on to an outhouse roof, and jump down into the yard behind the house."

Smart is alleged to have started a less serious fire in the doorway of another house in Seaham occasionally occupied by Mr Baker.

Smart and another man are alleged to have used a sports sock soaked in petrol to ignite petrol Smart poured over Baker's Audi, causing damage to the front of the car.

Smart, 39, of Shrewsbury Crescent, Humbledon, Sunderland, denies arson on December 23 and 24, both 2011, and arson with intent to endanger life on April 29, 2012.

He declined to give evidence in his own defence.

Robert Woodcock, defending Smart, told the jury his client was a "nasty thug" who had been to prison but was not an arsonist.

Roberts, 54, of Sorley Street, Millfield, Sunderland, denies arson with intent to endanger life on April 29, 2012.

Roberts told the jury he had run errands for some of the parties involved in the case, including collecting drugs money, but he was not an arsonist.

The jury will continue deliberating on Monday.