A teen arsonist who torched a family home while a mother and her two children slept inside has been locked up for four years.
Firefighters battled through the blaze to rescue a four-year-old boy and his mum after Dominic Kidger, 19, set fire to the front door with a can of petrol.
Kidger, who did not know the family, had been drinking and had taken drugs before the incident.
He told Burnley Crown Court that he had started the fire at the Oswaldtwistle home on May 2 last year out of fear of the people he had been with on the night.
Kidger, formerly of Marlow Avenue, Accrington, pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered on the basis that he believed the property was unoccupied.
But he did not check whether anyone was home and children’s toys were outside the house on Cherry Crescent, the court heard.
Prosecutor Simon Gurney told how the family of 33-year-old Carly Armstrong had been asleep when the fire broke out at their semi-detached house at 2.30am.
Mr Gurney said her 15-year-old daughter woke up feeling hot, smelt smoke and saw “massive orange flames” licking up the front door towards the stairs.
She ran into her mother’s room hysterically shouting that the house was on fire as thick black smoke entered the bedroom from under the door.
Mr Gurney told the court how the girl had jumped out of the bedroom window onto the porch roof. She then alerted neighbours and retrieved ladders to help her family.
But Ms Armstrong had been too frightened to climb down and it wasn’t until the fire brigade arrived that the mother and son were able to escape from the burning house.
They were rushed to hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation.
Mr Gurney added: “It’s clear from the photographs of the house that it is a property in use and there are obviously a great number of children’s toys outside the property immediately next to where the fire was set.”
David Ryan, for Kidger, said he acted out of ‘fear’.
He said: “He has lived in fear of these people who he was with on this particular night who the defendant mentions threatened him and his family.”
Mr Ryan continued that Kidger, who has no previous convictions, had been ‘foolish’ and ‘reckless’ and had acted completely out of character.
He said the defendant had been bullied and beaten at school and the impact on his self-esteem had made him resort to alcohol and drugs – which he has since stopped using. He said: “His parents highlight that their son has brought shame on a good, strong, loving, caring, law-abiding family and he knows he will have to live with that for the rest of his life.
He added: “Through me he wishes to publicly apologise to his victims for what he did. His remorse is genuine.”
But Judge Beverley Lunt said there were a number of aggravating features including the danger to surrounding properties, the time of the offence and Kidger’s failure to check if the house was occupied.
She sentenced him to four years in a young offenders institution.
She added: “These were innocent persons unknown to you.
“While no one was physically hurt the psychological damage is obvious. You have children afraid to live in their home and the memories will haunt them for years to come.” Speaking after the hearing
John Turner of Lancashire Fire and Rescue condemned Kidger’s ‘reckless’ actions.
He said: “It is not fanciful to suppose that an act like that ends up being touch and go as to whether we can reach them in time. It could so easily have resulted in death. It was a speedy rescue because it was a severe fire and cut off their escape route. It was a very hazardous situation.
He added: “That someone would put lives at risk for whatever reason in a situation like that should be deplored and we are encouraged by a custodial outcome.”