Man who won award for saving pensioner from house fire imprisoned for torching car
12:31pm Wednesday 2nd October 2013 in News
A MAN who received a bravery award for rescuing an elderly person from a burning building has been jailed for setting fire to a car in a revenge attack for a campaign of harassment he suffered.
Anthony Hughes, 33, was presented with a St John Ambulance medal in 2009 for the “selfless and courageous” act of running into a house to rescue the person, Cardiff Crown Court heard.
But four years later he set a woman’s 4 x 4 on fire outside her home in Pontllanfraith, burning himself in the process. The court heard he did it because the boyfriend of the occupant, Francesca Butt, had harassed him, an offence for which he received a two-year prison term.
Hughes believed her lover had also burgled his house and she was going to be given his TV set.
On January 12 matters came to a head when Hughes, who has moved to Village Road, Nottingham, went to Ms Butt’s home in Elim Way and knocked on the door. She answered and Hughes, who told police he was “making a statement” by his actions, poured a can of petrol over her hire car, turning it into a “ball of fire".
But the court heard his coat went up in flames and his accomplice, Katie Gravenor, 23, of George Dagger Avenue, Abertillery, threw it out of the window of their car as they left.
The pair attended McDonald’s in Blackwood, where staff provided him with ice for his burns, which needed hospital treatment. As police were looking for him, he told them where he was and was arrested.
He told officers about his injuries, stating: “That’s what you get for being a novice arsonist.”
Jeffrey Jones, defending, said his client committed the offence when he was emotional and about the harassment and wanted it to stop.
He told the court Hughes had found work as a self-employed charitable ambulance driver and had moved away from the area.
Mr Jones added: “He was a desperate man who broke on this night.”
Claire Pickthall, for Gravenor, said who cried in the dock, said she was “very, very distraught” by court proceedings.
The court heard she had been receiving help from a mental health team for bipolar disorder and an addiction to mephedrone.
Interrupting Judge Neil Bidder QC in passing sentence, Gravenor said: “Can I say I’m really sorry.”
The judge told Hughes setting fire to the car was an “incredibly dangerous thing to do.”
Hughes, who had earlier pleaded guilty to arson, was sentenced to 20 months' imprisonment, while Gravenor, who admitted assisting an offender, was given a six-month sentence suspended for two years.
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