Arsonist set fire to home as children slept upstairs

Stephen Johnstone, jailed for four years for setting fire to his partner's doorstep.
Stephen Johnstone, jailed for four years for setting fire to his partner's doorstep.
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A THUG who set fire to his partner’s doorstep as her two young children slept upstairs has been locked up for four years.

Arsonist Stephen Johnstone, aged 30, of Wade Street, Firth Park, hit his girlfriend Amanda Davey during a row at her house on nearby Hawkshead Road, before producing a bottle of turps.

Sheffield Crown Court heard Johnstone ‘sloshed’ the flammable liquid around Amanda’s children’s room while they were asleep, and poured it around the living room before starting a blaze on the doorstep.

Amanda had to stamp out the flames with her feet, the court heard, and Johnstone was also seen by witnesses outside with a lighter trying to set fire to her Volkswagen Golf.

Judge Michael Murphy QC told him: “You have taken domestic intimidation to a new high level indeed.”

Johnstone was convicted of arson recklessly endangering life, attempted arson and assault.

He had 46 previous convictions, and was jailed for two years in 2004 for knifing an ex-girlfriend’s uncle in the chest and arm.

Elizabeth Martin, prosecuting, said Johnstone and Amanda became involved in a ‘domestic dispute’ before the incident on January 2 this year.

She said: “Following that the complainant went downstairs, followed by the defendant, who again sloshed turps around the living area.”

Amanda left the house to raise the alarm with neighbours and returned to find ‘fire damage and flames’ on her doorstep.

“The defendant approached the complainant’s car and poured turps over the roof. He was seen with a lighter in his hand making concerted attempts to set fire to the vehicle and the accelerant,” added Ms Martin.

After his arrest, Johnstone denied starting the fire, telling police he was elsewhere at the time.

Andrew Smith, defending, said: “This was a controlled fire on the doorstep with very little damage. It was highly unlikely this was going to get out of hand.”

Judge Murphy said: “It’s a serious matter. There were children asleep upstairs that night.

“I accept you helped to stamp out the fire with Miss Davey in her stockinged feet but if you hadn’t been successful the consequences could have been truly appalling.You showed no remorse for this.”

Johnstone was jailed for four years for reckless arson, with 12 months for attempted arson, to be served concurrently and minus 133 days spent in custody.

He was banned from contacting Amanda for seven years.