Man faces jail for arson attack

A CAB driver could be jailed for life after being found guilty of starting a fire at the home of his estranged wife and children while they slept inside.

A CAB driver could be jailed for life after being found guilty of starting a fire at the home of his estranged wife and children while they slept inside.

Trevor Denny was convicted at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday of arson and endangering the lives of Julie Denny and his children, Maisie, three, and Isabel, one, on February 16.

Denny, 36, of Stowmarket Road, Needham Market, had denied the charge but after more than five hours of deliberation a jury returned a majority verdict of 11 to 1 of guilty.

He also faced an alternative charge of being reckless as to whether their lives would be endangered but this was dropped in light of the more serious conviction.

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The maximum penalty for the offence is life imprisonment.

However before sentencing Judge John Devaux ordered a psychiatric report be completed on the defendant.

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He said the trial had been a "sad case" and Denny was to be kept in custody until he was sentenced on September 27.

Speaking after the verdict detective constable Chris Hinitt, who led the police investigation, said: "We're very pleased that the jury came back with a verdict of guilty.

"It was a very serious incident and I cannot emphasise enough the superb work of the fire service in rescuing Julie and her children and in the subsequent investigation. There is just not enough praise that I can give them.

"We are clearly relieved that the investigation has come to an end and I am sure Julie and everyone involved in the case feels the same now that a guilty verdict has been given."

The court had previously heard how Mrs Denny, who split up from her husband in 2003, was woken by a loud bang in the early hours of February 16 and had opened her bedroom door to find the house full of smoke.

She dialled 999 and remained trapped in her bedroom with her two young daughters until she was rescued by firefighters.

Denny had told the court that he had a blackout on the night in question and had no memory of visiting his former home in Rectory Road, Ipswich.

It was only after his arrest and remand in custody on suspicion of starting the fire that he remembered getting up during the night in question and driving to Rectory Road.

Denny said his estranged wife had told him that she had been worried about prowlers and he had decided to check on her house on his way home from his friends' house in Myrtle Road, Ipswich, to his flat in Needham Market.

When he got to Rectory Road, he noticed the front gate and the front door to the house were open and had decided to investigate.

He had no recollection of any sound, but was aware of extreme heat. Denny said he had panicked, run to his car and driven back to his friends' home.

Prosecution counsel David Markham had alleged that Denny snapped on the night in question and deliberately started the blaze.

He claimed Denny had let himself into the house in the early hours of the morning with his key and had then disabled a smoke alarm, pulled up floorboards to create a trap for anyone trying to get in or out of the house and had obstructed the front door with a vacuum cleaner.

Mr Markham suggested Denny's anger had built up after his estranged wife spat at him during an argument several days earlier and after she mentioned receiving a Valentine's Day card that had not been from him.

There was also an on-going dispute about the house and Mrs Denny had told him she was going to have the locks changed.

Sean Myles, Mrs Denny's father, said last night one of his grandchildren could remember the incident.

"It's had quite a traumatic effect on her," Mr Myles, from Felixstowe, said.

"I think Julie is relieved it's all over."

Mrs Denny was unavailable for comment last night.

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