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Man heard threatening to burn down flat unless pregnant girlfriend returned, court hears

PUBLISHED: 07:30 03 April 2019

Fire crews at the scene of the blaze in Halesworth Picture: Amy Smith/Archant.

Fire crews at the scene of the blaze in Halesworth Picture: Amy Smith/Archant.

Archant

A man accused of starting a blaze in a flat which went on to devastate a town centre newsagents was heard shouting from a window that he would "light it up" if his girlfriend did not return to him, it has been alleged.

Firefighters and police at the scene Picture: Nick ButcherFirefighters and police at the scene Picture: Nick Butcher

Esme Stephenson told a jury at Ipswich Crown Court she heard Stephen Wilson make the threat from a flat above DC Patrick newsagents in the Market Place, Halesworth, if his partner Amy Clark didn’t go back to him.

Mrs Stephenson said she clearly heard the words which she took to mean that Wilson was going to set fire to the flat.

Wilson, 32, of Poppy Close, Loddon, has denied arson being reckless as to whether life would be endangered, two offences of assaulting Miss Clark by beating, and driving a car taken without consent.

The court has heard that Wilson and 26-year-old Miss Clark had a “turbulent” relationship and in March 2017 a court had made an order banning him from contacting her or going to Halesworth.

Despite the court order the couple had got back together but the arguments had continued and on June 11 Wilson, who had been drinking, accused Miss Clark of deleting text messages on her phone before he could read them.

He had allegedly given her “a backhander” to the face resulting in her banging her head, said Andrew Jackson, prosecuting.

Miss Clark, who was eight months pregnant, left the flat with Mrs Stephenson and as she walked away Wilson was allegedly heard threatening to start a fire at the flat if she didn’t go back.

“It wasn’t an idle threat and within minutes he made good his threat,” alleged Mr Jackson.

He claimed that after Wilson allegedly started the fire at around 6pm it had spread quickly, despite the efforts of the fire brigade, with “devastating” consequences to neighbouring properties including the newsagents beneath the flat.

Giving evidence on Tuesday April 2, holidaymaker Adrian Mason-Rogers, who was staying at rented accommodation opposite the newsagents, described seeing a man shouting at an open window of the flat and hearing an alarm making a bleeping noise.

He saw smoke coming out of the window and shortly afterwards saw the man who had been at the window come out of a door at the premises.

The trial continues.

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