‘Paranoid’ ex-boyfriend guilty of Halesworth flat arson

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Fire in Halesworth, SuffolkImage copyright
Mark Eley/Suffolk Fire Service

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The blaze in Halesworth town centre left a family homeless

A man who assaulted his pregnant ex-partner then set her house on fire has been found guilty of arson.

Stephen Wilson, 32, of Loddon in Norfolk, started a blaze on 11 June that left Amy Clark and her daughter homeless.

The fire above a newsagent’s in Halesworth, Suffolk, caused about £1.8m in damage, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Wilson was found guilty of one count of assault, reckless endangerment arson, and taking a car without consent.

He was found not guilty of a further count of assault.

The fire Wilson started at the property in Chediston Street spread to two other buildings and caused a roof to collapse.

He and Ms Clark, 26, had had a “turbulent” relationship, the court heard.

Image copyright
Mark Eley, Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service

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Fire crews were called out at about 18:15 BST on 11 June

‘Very jealous person’

Ms Clark said Wilson, of Poppy Street, had been drinking on the day of the fire, and the pair had become embroiled in an argument.

When her friend Brett Stevenson came to the house, he said her face was red “as if she had just been hit”.

Ms Clark began to pack her bags, which angered Wilson. He confronted them, telling them he needed “another pipe”, which Mr Stevenson took to mean crack cocaine.

He then threatened to “light it up” if Ms Clark left the timber-framed flat, Mr Stevenson told the court.

Ms Clark described her ex-partner as a “very jealous person” and “paranoid”. In the weeks before the fire, he had grown “more and more nasty” and violent, telling her: “I’m older than you, you should respect me.”

Image copyright
Kevin Greagsby

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The fire was started in a flat above a newsagent’s on Chediston Street in Halesworth

Wilson had already admitted breaching a court order banning him from contacting Ms Clark.

Newsagent David Patrick, who owns the lease on the building, said he had lost irreplaceable pictures of his children in the fire and now faced a repair bill of £50,000, despite insurance cover.

“It could have killed, and it could have financially destroyed me,” he said.

Wilson is due to be sentenced in May.

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