Arson attack: Mother jailed

Katherine Marshall convicted
Katherine Marshall convicted
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A TEENAGE mum who set fire to her ex-boyfriend’s home after he made her have an abortion has been jailed for two years.

Katherine Louise Marshall, who was only 18 at the time, had been persuaded to give up her relationship with James Tingle but still had feelings for him and turned to heavy drinking when it broke down, a court heard.

Fortunately Mr Tingle was not at home when she and her pal carried out the arson attack at the terrace house in Broxholme Lane, Doncaster, which was owned by his mother.

The prompt actions of passers-by who called the fire service saved the property from suffering serious damage and also prevented the blaze from spreading to adjoining properties where the neighbours were in bed.

Doncaster Crown Court heard Marshall and her friend, Chelsea Ann Robinson, also 18, were walking past Mr Tingle’s house late one night after finishing a shift at a night club. They saw there were no lights on so decided to ‘make a mess of the garden’, emptying the wheelie bin and using lip gloss to daub graffiti on the door, said Neil Coxon, prosecuting.

But they also shoved paper sheets through the letter box and set them alight. People passing in a taxi saw the flames and called 999. Fire crews put the fire out before it spread to the rest of the house, although damage costing £2,700 was caused to the doorway.

When police arrived they saw Marshall and Robinson hanging around nearby. The pair were arrested and found to have cigarette lighters in their possession. CCTV footage also showed them gathering rubbish and holding flickering flames near the door.

Mr Coxon said Marshall, of West Bank, Fishlake - who had a two-year-old son from a previous relationship - told police she had stopped seeing Mr Tingle in May 2010 because her mother did not approve and she had been told to choose between him or her son.

She had also become pregnant by Mr Tingle and had a termination at his request, said Mr Coxon. Marshall then found out he was seeing someone else and that she too was pregnant.

Mr Coxon said: “She said she found it difficult to cope with the break-up and had taken to drinking heavily to block things out.”

On the night of the incident last November she had consumed a number of double Bacardis and Malibus, several glasses of wine and two beers, the court heard.

Robinson, of Royal Avenue, Doncaster, knew Mr Tingle because he had also been in a relationship with her older sister. She said he had ‘messed up her sister’s head and did the same to Marshall’, Mr Coxon added.

Neighbour Tanya Grindrod, who was woken by the passers-by, later told police: “There was no damage to our house but it’s really frightened me because such a fire could easily have spread while we were asleep.”

Marshall and Robinson, who were of previous good character, both pleaded guilty to reckless arson.

Marshall was sentenced to two years and Robinson to two years nine months at a young offenders’ institution.

After the case, Det Insp Dave Mayfield, of Doncaster CID, said it was a foolish offence committed in drink which could have ended in tragedy: “This is a good result which we hope will have a deterrent effect on other people thinking of starting fires.”