Man started 'devastating fire' after row with pregnant girlfriend, court hears
PUBLISHED: 19:00 01 April 2019
A jealous Suffolk man started a devastating fire which caused hundreds of thousands of pounds damage to a town centre newsagents and adjoining buildings after his pregnant girlfriend walked out on him, it has been alleged.
As Amy Clark, who was nearly eight months pregnant, walked away from the timber-framed flat above DC Patrick Newsagents in Market Place, Halesworth, Stephen Wilson was heard shouting that he would set fire to the premises if she didn’t go back, Ipswich Crown Court heard.
Andrew Jackson, prosecuting, described the relationship between Wilson and 26-year-old Miss Clark as “turbulent” and said that in March 2017 a court made an order banning him from contacting her or going to Halesworth.
Despite the 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 Mr Jackson.
Miss Clark left the flat with some friends and as she walked away Wilson was 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.
“The cost of the damage was many hundreds of thousands of pounds,” said Mr Jackson.
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 jury has been told that Wilson has admitted breaching a restraining order banning him from contacting Miss Clark.
Following his arrest, he declined to answer questions.
The trial continues.