A WOMAN who set fire to a caravan in her garden after a row with her partner, feared afterwards that he had been in it and may have died.

Catherine Neale, 43, was caught on CCTV - installed in her home after a previous incident - leaving her back door with something in her hand in the early hours of April 19 this year, and returning three minutes later.

Shortly afterwards, light from flames that engulfed and destroyed the caravan could be seen on the wall of the house, in King Street, Cwm, near Ebbw Vale.

Neale later asked a police officer: "What if my partner's in the caravan? He goes in there when we argue. If he is, do you think he will be dead?"

But there was no evidence of a body in the wreckage, and it was confirmed that he had been at a friend's house.

Prosecutor Gareth James said Neale and her partner had a " somewhat volatile" relationship, especially when both - described as "functioning alcoholics" - had been drinking. Neale's partner often went to the caravan "to cool down", and often slept there

The previous evening the pair went to the birthday party of a woman in Cwm, who Neale had accused of having an affair with her partner. The woman was woken at 3.15am next morning by Neale shouting in the street, accusing her of causing an argument between Neale and her partner.

At 4.10am, a neighbour was woken by Neale shouting that her house was on fire. Firefighters and the police attended, and an officer later watched the CCTV footage.

Defence counsel Andrew Davies told a sentencing hearing at Newport Crown Court that mother-of-two Neale "had by any account a tragic background" and had endured "several traumatic and tragic incidents".

Judge Tom Crowther QC told Neale she had been "burdened with more than your fair share of misery", and used alcohol as a "balm". A pre-sentence report indicated that since April, Neale has been trying to tackle her alcohol problem, and he told her he admired those efforts.

But he said this was a serious offence, the caravan being close enough to the house that the possibility of fire spreading to other properties could not be excluded.

"It is certain you wanted to pay him (your partner) back for some perceived slight, and your reaction was gross," said Judge Crowther.

Neale, who pleaded guilty to arson, being reckless as to whether life was endangered, was sentenced to two years in prison.