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‘I’ll burn you alive’ - Jail for man who started Ipswich hostel fire while on bail for threatening neighbour

PUBLISHED: 12:10 17 March 2018 | UPDATED: 12:50 17 March 2018

Robert King has been jailed for arson and threats to kill. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY

Robert King has been jailed for arson and threats to kill. Picture: SUFFOLK CONSTABULARY


A father of two who started an Ipswich hostel fire while on bail for threatening to kill his neighbour with a plaster saw, has been jailed for five years.

Robert King, 39, was staying at the Spring Road hostel when he told a resident “I’ll burn you alive”.

On Friday, Ipswich Crown Court heard Wassem Salman returned to the hostel on November 2 to find its front door smashed.

Prosecuting, Michael Crimp told Judge David Goodin that Mr Salman found King’s room had also been “completely trashed”.

Mr Salman later found King lying outside his room with contents from an emptied bin, which he thought he intended to burn. “The defendant then shouted ‘I’m going to kill you and burn you alive’,” Mr Crimp said.

Mr Salman heard the flick of a lighter and saw the hallway fill with smoke and flames. He smashed his window and fled to a neighbour to raise the alarm.

Firefighters tackled the blaze with no-one suffering injury and only minor damage to the hostel.

The court heard King had been in the hostel as a bail condition following an incident in Archer Avenue, Southend-on-Sea.

Mr Crimp said King’s neighbour in Archer Avenue, Gary Roberts had returned home on October 25 and heard him shouting “I’m going to kill you.” Mr Roberts went to his backdoor and saw King on his balcony looking “wild” with a “bright red face”.

King crossed over onto Mr Roberts’ balcony holding a knife. “He then lunged towards Mr Roberts, making a slashing movement,” Mr Crimp said. “Mr Roberts was extremely scared.”

Police arrested King and found a pad saw, used for cutting plaster.

Defending, Alex Rooke said King was not violent and, despite 25 prior convictions, had not been before a court in five years.

He said King had been the victim of a crime, which led to him drinking and taking crack cocaine, affecting his mental health. Mr Rooke said King had been in jail where he was sober, “positive about the future” and in contact with his children.

Judge Goodin credited King’s guilty pleas and acknowledged he was in “personal agony” when the crimes happened. “I’m told that sober, you can see the mess you were making of things,” he added

King was sentenced to nine months for the threats to kill and four years eight months for arson, consecutively. He was banned from Archer Avenue or contacting Gary or Mary Roberts.

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