Ipswich woman jailed for setting fire to neighbour’s home
PUBLISHED: 11:48 14 September 2019 | UPDATED: 17:23 14 September 2019
An Ipswich couple’s wedding outfits and their children’s Christmas presents were damaged after their next door neighbour set light to her home, a court has heard.
Gemma Powell was putting her two children, aged five and 20 months, to bed at their home in Bramford Lane on December 27 when she became aware of the fire started by her neighbour Karon Rayner, Ipswich Crown Court heard.
She grabbed her children and when she got downstairs she saw smoke by the front door, said Stephen Rose, prosecuting.
Rayner, 53, of Bramford Lane, Ipswich, admitted arson being reckless as to whether life would be endangered. Jailing her for five years with an extended licence period of three years, Judge Martyn Levett said Rayner's neighbours had lost £40,000 of their belongings as a result of the blaze.
He said that in addition to their children's Christmas presents being destroyed Gemma Powell and her partner's wedding outfits had smelled of smoke and were covered in soot as a result of the fire spreading to their home.
Judge Levett said the total value of damage to the defendant's rented house and the adjoining house was £150,000
He acknowledged that Rayner, who had been drinking 65 cans of Special Brew, a week, had had a "wretched life".
However, he said she presented a danger to the public because of the potential of her committing further serious offences in the future if she continued drinking.
The court heard that at 8.10pm on December 27 last year Rayner knocked on a neighbour's door and said there was a fire at her house.
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The neighbour saw a blind was alight and he put it out and called the police after Rayner said she was going to set fire to it again.
Rayner had started a second fire and was seen outside her end-of-terrace house "significantly intoxicated".
Neil Saunders, for Rayner, said his client had started the first fire accidentally but accepted the second fire had been deliberate.
He said Rayner hadn't expected the second fire to cause as much damage as it did.
He said Rayner had been very drunk and was depressed and feeling sorry for herself after not seeing her children at Christmas or getting any presents.
"It was a cry for help," said Mr Saunders.
Three fire crews were called to Rayner's house at around 8.30pm on December 27 last year and battled the blaze for around an hour and a half.
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