Woman jumped from window of burning home in her nightie after alleged arson attack on rapper's home, court told

A woman told a court she was woken by a large bang before fleeing her burning house by jumping from a first floor window.

Monday, 29th January 2018, 5:00 am
Updated Monday, 29th January 2018, 8:25 am
David Baker was said to have 'disrespected' Alan Smart in a rap song

Vicki Barnes, barefoot and dressed only in her nightie, landed on a wheelie bin before clambering into a neighbour’s garden to raise the alarm.

Ms Barnes was giving evidence in the trial of Sunderland men Alan Smart and David Roberts.

Smart is alleged to have targeted Ms Barnes’ partner David Baker by setting three fires.

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Roberts is alleged to have driven Smart to Seaham to set the second of two house fires.

Prosecutors claim the fires were started because Mr Baker has ‘disrespected’ Smart in a rap song, and because of an unpaid debt.

A jury at Teesside Crown Court heard Ms Barnes was staying with Mr Baker at a house in Princess Road in Seaham.

The court heard the fire started at about 1am.

Ms Barnes said she ran to her daughter’s bedroom, but then remembered her daughter was staying elsewhere that night.

“There was no way I could get down the stairs, so I went to climb out of the bedroom window, “ she said in a video interview played to the jury.

Ms Barnes said she believed Alan Smart was responsible for starting the fire.

“We had a fire at another house we were in in St Helen’s Drive in Seaham,” she said.

“Smart was seen getting out of a taxi outside, the driver made a statement but he withdrew it.

“On the day of the last fire David (Baker) had a visit from one of his football friends, Asa Dobbing.

“I overheard David tell Asa: ‘If he wants a war, tell him he can have a war’.

“There was a debt David owed from a car which got passed round and round, and now it’s Alan’s, and because it’s his, it has quadrupled or something.”

Under cross-examination from Robert Woodcock QC, defending Smart, Ms Barnes said she knew nothing of a drugs debt owed by Mr Baker to another man.

She said she knew of Asa Dobbing, and knew he was in prison.

“I read that in the Sunderland Echo,” she added. “David bought the car from Asa Dobbing.

“As far as I knew, all the trouble was over a debt to do with the car.

“I’m 99.9% sure it was Alan Smart who started the fires.”

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

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

Both made no comment when interviewed by police.