A GWENT man was so desperate after being told he had to leave his home that he set fire to it during a police siege, killing himself in the process, an inquest heard.

The hearing in Newport was told that police were unable to enter the home of Mark Seabourne, 36, in The Crescent, Cwmbran, on December 13 last year, because he armed himself with an axe, golf clubs, knives and an air rifle.

Chief Superintendent Kevin Price, who took command of the incident, said Mr Seabourne was a "person in crisis."

Neighbours said Mr Seabourne was "immensely worried" about having to move, the inquest heard.

In the early hours of December 13, neighbours saw Mr Seabourne smashing windows in the house with an axe and a golf club and throwing household items out.

PC Jenny Tinsley tried in vain to calm Mr Seabourne down. Police tried to break down the front door, but it was barricaded.

PC Tinsley said Mr Seabourne became aggressive, and police sprayed pepper spray to his face through the broken front living room window, forcing him to drop the golf club.

But he returned with a knife in each hand, and they retreated.

Sergeant John Watson said officers were armed with "less than lethal" weapons, including tasers and baton guns.

But he saw Mr Seabourne point a rifle it straight at him, and ordered officers to take cover and arm themselves fully.

Chief Superintendent Kevin Price said his as he arrived at the scene, a fire started in an upstairs front bedroom, and took hold of the whole upper floor. It took one and a half hours to put out.

Mr Seabourne's body was later found lying on the bed in the front upstairs bedroom.

Fire investigator Mick Flanagan said Mr Seabourne set the fire himself.

Clive Seabourne told the inquest his brother lived alone at the former family home after their mother Maureen died in May 2006, and his brother Paul later moved out.

Torfaen council housing officer Theresa Williams told the inquest she told Mr Seabourne the property was too big for him, and he would have to move.

He agreed and was given a priority card, but by December he still hadn't found a new home, so Mrs Williams arranged to see him on December 12.

Clive Seabourne said his brother, who was on medication for depression and had started drinking heavily, had "no intention of leaving."

A post mortem examination concluded he died as a result of exposure to fire and smoke.

He had a blood alcohol level of 205 per cent.

Gwent Coroner David Bowen said there was no evidence Mr Seabourne threatened to take his own life, but "fuelled by alcohol and fearful he would be evicted from his home, believed that by setting fire to the house he would damage it beyond the reach of any other tenant, not thinking he would sacrifice his life in the process."

The inquest jury returned a verdict of misadventure.

'Decision-making focused on saving life' - police After the incident, Mr Seabourne's family hit out at the police because his brother Clive Seabourne was not allowed through the police cordon to talk to him.

At the inquest, Chief Superintendent Price said introducing a relative could prove more inflammatory, and added: "My decision making was entirely focused on trying to save life."

And he said to the family: "I would like to apologise on behalf of Gwent Police that the ability to give you an update briefing was not taken."