A man who torched an Accrington house in the early hours after smashing his way in with an accomplice has been jailed for three years and four months.
Troubled Jonathan Cooper, 24, who was with his uncle Christopher Heys, had thrown a breeze block through the window of terrified Stephen Rainey’s house on Monk Street.
Once inside the mid-terrace home, Cooper started the blaze on the spur of the moment.
Mr Rainey, who was seeing Mr Heys’s ex-partner, was put at risk, as were his neighbours, the police and fire officers, Burnley Crown Court heard. Cooper, who was drunk and had been taking cannabis, was said to have an anti-social personality disorder, aggravated by alcohol and drugs.
Sentencing, Judge Beverley Lunt, who decided she would not class the defendant as dangerous, said he was not mentally ill.
She continued: "It is only though luck that the police attended very quickly, as did the fire brigade, that the damage wasn’t worse."
Cooper, of Accrington Road, Blackburn, had admitted arson, being reckless as to whether life was endangered and damage, last November.
Sarah Statham, prosecuting, said Mr Rainey was at home at about 3am when he heard banging and the sound of his door being kicked in.
He had earlier received text messages from Mr Heys and had seen two figures outside. His window was then put through.
The victim fled the property in fear, called his sister and asked her to phone the police. Officers arrived shortly afterwards and found the defendant and Mr Heys upstairs. Mr Rainey could smell smoke and saw a fire had been started in the living room. Fire officers using breathing apparatus had to go into the house but the blaze did not cause a lot of damage.
The defendant told police: "I started the fire. Charge me with the offence and then I can go home."
Cooper said he had tried to start a sofa fire with a cigarette lighter but added he did not know why he had done it.
He claimed he had a look round, saw Mr Rainey wasn’t in and started the blaze.
Daniel Prowse, for Cooper, said he was alcohol dependent and had been using cannabis heavily. He decided to go and confront Mr Rainey and Cooper foolishly decided to go along. He had not planned to set fire to the house.
The barrister continued: "The decision to start the fire once inside the address was a spontaneous decision made there and then. He knows what he did was very dangerous and very stupid and he is genuinely sorry."
Mr Prowse said the defendant, who had smoked cannabis from the age of 10, had had a very difficult childhood. He had recently had to identity the body of a flatmate.
The barrister added: "He is undoubtedly a very troubled young man. It’s my submission he will come out of custody a better man than he goes in."