Callous arsonist could have killed family of 6, judge says
A revengeful man carried out a threat to burn down his ex-girlfriend’s caravan, despite knowing young children were sleeping nearby, a court heard. A family of six, who escaped with just the clothes they stood up in, could have died if the children’s mother had not woken up “in the nick of time,” in the early hours of Sunday, November 29. A judge at Leicester Crown Court said the culprit, Lord Curtis Lodge, was lucky not to be facing multiple counts of murder.
: All the latest stories from the courts in Leicester and further afield can be found here The 33-year-old denied a charge of arson with intent to endanger lives, but a jury convicted him after a recent trial. As well as destroying two caravans and a static home with fixtures and fittings, damage was also caused to a lorry, fairground rides, a fork-lift truck and a garage, totalling more than GBP166,000.
The court heard Lodge was on licence at the time, from a 40 month jail sentence for firing a shotgun into a Mercedes and setting the vehicle alight.
The court was told the defendant set fire to his ex-girlfriend’s caravan off Wymeswold Road, Hoton, near Loughborough, after she snubbed his calls and ignored his text threats that he would wreak revenge. They had only been in a brief on-off relationship for a few months. He was enraged because she went to stay with friends in Essex and threatened to burn down her caravan while she was away.
He was well aware the victim’s brother, partner and their four young children occupied two caravans on the same plot. Lodge drove from his home at Moorbarns Lane, Lutterworth, to the caravan park in Hoton and ignited clothing in the victim’s caravan, without caring of the consequences. Joey Kwong, prosecuting, said at yesterday’s sentencing hearing: “His actions were planned and calculated.
The caravan was destroyed
“He started the fire intending to blame a faulty fuse box in a cupboard, because he wanted to get back at her over a perceived slight.”
The ex-girlfriend, in a victim impact statement, said she was left homeless with just the slippers and dressing gown she had taken away with her. She added: “I’m so scared now I know what he’s capable of.” Her brother’s family were also left without possessions, precious photographs, family heirlooms, toys, clothing or furniture.
It left them “broken” as they tried to rebuild their lives in rented accommodation.
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Simply click the ‘unsubscribe’ link. The victim’s pregnant sister-in-law awoke that night to see flames outside and saved her partner and four children, of various ages up to 11-years-old. She said it was “petrifying.”
Afterwards they were unable to sleep properly, with one child resorting to bed-wetting and another “crying out for her dollies and special baby blankets.” Another victim, who owned the destroyed fairground rides said the fire had “caused misery” and devastated their small family business. Eight fire service appliances and 19 police officers attended the scene.
Recorder Balraj Bhatia QC said: “This case has every possible aggravating feature, including the defendant’s previous conviction for arson.
“It was a premeditated revenge attack, with young children involved, with significant input from the emergency services and he knew liquid gas cylinders were on site.” He told Lodge: “I’ve no hesitation in concluding you’re a dangerous offender, who presents a substantial risk of harm to others. “Had it not been for these people waking up in the nick of time and escaping you would no doubt be facing murder charges for multiple victims.
The charred remains
“Your ex-girlfriend also had her possessions wiped away by your anger and jealousy.
“Her relations with her family members are in tatters.” Lodge earlier pleaded guilty to causing actual bodily harm to his ex-girlfriend, in a separate incident, when he dragged her around by her hair, slapped her face and threw two glasses against a wall, causing a shard to cut her leg, on September 18 last year. Lodge was jailed for a total of 12 years, with an extra three year licence extension.
He was placed on an indefinite restraining order banning any contact with the victim or her family. Afterwards, the investigating officer, Detective Constable Aimee Farmer, said: “Lodge set alight to the caravan with the intention of causing as much damage as possible. “He didn’t care who he hurt – physically or emotionally.
“Thankfully those who were sleeping at the time managed to escape unharmed, but they are still living with the consequences of his actions that night.
“I know they are still trying to rebuild their lives, but I hope they can find some relief from the fact he has been brought to justice and will be spending time in prison, meaning that they may finally be able to move on.”
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