Man’s ‘burning desire for revenge’ sees him jailed for double arson attack

David Grothier has been jailed for nine years. Picture: ESSEX POLICE

David Grothier has been jailed for nine years. Picture: ESSEX POLICE - Credit: Archant

A Colchester man who started two fires in a three-storey block of flats in a “revenge attack” after falling out with neighbours has been jailed for nine years.

David Grothier, who was described as having a “burning desire for revenge”, was seen leaving his flat in Highwoods, Colchester, with lighter fluid and two sticks with tea towels taped to them shortly before the fires which caused £33,000 damage, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

As a result of the fires on the top floor of Gazelle Court on March 26 a number of residents were evacuated from the three-story block and a cat, a chinchilla and some birds in a cage belonging to the victim of one of the fires died.

Sentencing Grothier, Judge Martyn Levett said the defendant had acted out of malice and was driven by a “burning desire for revenge” after falling out with his neighbour Catherine Purchases and her son Jack Hymus.

He said that as a result of the blaze at his flat Mr Hymus couldn’t live in his home for four months and had “lost everything” including his pets, which were incinerated by the flames or died from smoke inhalation.


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Judge Levett said Grothier had been angry after Miss Purchases punched him in the face after accusing him of making sexual advances to her, and he was also upset that Mr Hymus had made a statement to police claiming he had seen him with a knife.

Judge Levett said that Grothier had made two fire torches out of a wooden stake and tea towels which he had poked through the letter boxes of the flats occupied by Miss Purchases and Mr Hymus.

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Although the fire failed to take hold in Miss Purchases’ flat, clothing hanging near the letter box in her son’s flat had caught alight and the fire had spread.

Grothier, 49, of Chinook, Colchester, denied arson and attempted arson with intent to endanger life and was found guilty by a jury after an earlier trial.

In addition to being jailed he was banned from contacting Miss Purchases and Mr Hymus indefinitely.

Edward Duncan-Smith, for Grothier, said his client had been diagnosed with a disassociative personality disorder and had a drink problem.

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