A ‘DANGEROUS’ arsonist who tried to cover his tracks by scrawling ‘Stay away from my wife’ on a wall in his victim’s blazing house has been jailed for seven years.
But Hadrian Dunker’s actions in starting the blaze had nothing to do with love or passion - instead the message was a deliberate red herring, and the arson attack was borne entirely out of revenge, Sheffield Crown Court was told.
The court heard Dunker, aged 49, was sacked from his job as a caretaker at Meadowhall shopping centre after bosses discovered he was taking items out of skips at the complex, which he then sold on internet auction site eBay. His actions came to light after a colleague, Helen Taylor, whom he had asked to sell things he had taken, became uncomfortable with the arrangement and reported Dunker to their employers.
She also asked Dunker not to come near her again - and gave to charity some of the money she had made by selling the items he had given to her.
Dunker began to plot his revenge. He stalked his 33-year-old victim, following her home to the house she shared with her husband Paul, and nine-year-old son Kieron, in Sicey Lane, Shiregreen, Sheffield.
He continued to follow her for several weeks, to establish her usual movements.
Then, on the day of the attack, he waited until Helen had left home before donning a disguise - a baseball cap with long hair attached - and arming himself with a sledge hammer and a can of petrol.
After smashing down the door to the Taylors’ home, Dunker poured petrol in the hallway and set the fuel on fire - but not before scrawling the warning on the wall.
The court heard he then returned to his car and drove off.
A neighbour called 999 and a 79-year-old woman who was asleep in the neighbouring property had to be rescued by firefighters.
The Taylors’ semi-detached home, which was uninsured, was damaged throughout. Immediate repairs cost more than £6,500.
Police arrested Dunker after his DNA was discovered on the baseball cap disguise - which had been discarded at the scene.
He was arrested and questioned and later admitted his guilt.
Dunker, of Well Lane in Treeton, Rotherham, pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.
Sending him to prison, Sheffield’s most senior crown court judge, Judge Alan Goldsack QC, described him as ‘dangerous’.
The judge told him: “You are a man vulnerable to harbouring resentment, and you clearly harboured resentment to your victim. This is a very serious act of revenge planned over several weeks.”
Afterwards, victim Paul Taylor, 38, spoke of his relief that Dunker was no longer at liberty.
“It was a fantastic moment when the judge sent him down,” he said.
“What he did has had a huge effect on all our lives. Myself, Helen and Kieron will never get over this.
“Sentencing him for such a long time will help us sleep at night.”