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Man set fire to Yarmouth home

PUBLISHED: 14:04 23 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:42 03 July 2010

A GREAT Yarmouth man caused tens of thousands of pounds of damage and put another family at risk after setting fire to a house, before ordering a taxi to get away, a court has heard.

A GREAT Yarmouth man caused tens of thousands of pounds of damage and put another family at risk after setting fire to a house, before ordering a taxi to get away, a court has heard.

Graham Brunsdon, 42, smashed up his ex-partner's son's house and then dropped a cigarette on the floor and watched it set light to some nearby boxes before the fire spread and gutted the property in Lichfield Road, Great Yarmouth.

He pleaded guilty to one count of arson and admitted that he had sent threatening text messages telling his ex-partner and her adult son Jamie Andre what he had planned to do to the house, which was empty at the time.

Norwich Crown Court heard that Brunsdon was suffering from “acute stress reaction”, and that neighbours and family members had been concerned about his behaviour leading up to the arson attack.

Lori Tucker, prosecuting, said that he had owned the house with his partner before Mr Andre gave him £18,000 towards it and arranged to take on the mortgage himself, living there with a lodger.

She said that in April this year, while both of the occupants were away, Mr Andre had a phone call from the defendant, who sounded “rather edgy and upset”.

She said: “Mr Brunsdon then called him in the early hours on April 17, when he talked about his relationship with his former partner, Mr Andre's mother, and then made threats.”

He use abusive language and told Jamie Andre that the house “is not going to be standing when you get back. I am going to burn it down,” the court heard.

“He trashed the kitchen and caused substantial damage to the rest of the house, and then dropped a cigarette onto the floor and watched it burn. He said he tried to stamp it out but some nearby boxes had caught light.

“He said he thought he was watching someone else light it. Having done that, he called a taxi and left with his personal belongings.”

The court heard how Brunsdon's actions had caused tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage to the property and its contents, as well as putting the lives of the family, who lived next door, at risk.

Mitigating, Katharine Moore said: “The prosecution witnesses refer to him as having some sort of breakdown at the time.” She added that he was having trouble finding work and that this had added to his levels of stress.

Sentencing him to a 10-month prison sentence suspended over a period of two years with a supervision condition, Judge Paul Downes said: “It is not a medical condition which would respond to treatment. The danger of what you have done is obvious and the cost of the damage is considerable.”

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