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Jail for jilted lover who set fire to home

Wolverhampton | News | Published:

A jilted lover who set fire to his girlfriend's house after she ended their relationship and asked him to move out has been jailed for 32 months.

Wolverhampton Crown Court was told Nicholas Wilcox set fire to a bedroom at Emma Beck's house in Beeches Road, Leamore, Walsall, while she was out at a christening. The court heard the ordeal had left Miss Beck afraid to return to her home, and she also sought the help of her GP. Her three children, who were not at the house when Wilcox started the fire, had also been left traumatised.

Wilcox, aged 37, of Parker Street, Bloxwich, admitted arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

Mr David Lees, prosecuting, said Wilcox had been in a short relationship with Miss Beck and had been living at her house.

On May 4 this year she told Wilcox she wanted to end the relationship, and wanted him to move out that day.

"Miss Beck was on her way to a christening, and told the defendant she wanted him to move his property out of her house while she was away," said Mr Lees.

He added that Wilcox consumed a large amount of alcohol while Miss Beck was away, and sent her a number of text messages which were 'a little emotional'.

Mr Lees said a neighbour had noticed Wilcox entering the property at around 2pm, and shortly after noticed smoke coming out of the front bedroom window. A smoke alarm was also activated.

"The neighbour describes the smoke as really thick, and he could smell burning," he said.

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"He was outside, and he looked up at the next-door neighbour's property, and he could see this defendant leaning out of the window."

Wilcox, who was clearly in a drunken state, let the neighbour in, and he called firefighters and Miss Beck.

Wilcox initially claimed he had started the fire by accident after lighting a candle, but a firefighter's report said the mattress had been set alight and aided with an accelerant.

He added that Wilcox was subject to an eight-week suspended sentence for a drink-related offence at the time of the fire.

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Mr Malcolm Fowler, defending, said that his client had been in custody since the time of the offence.

He presented the court with a letter from the jail where he had been held which described him as a model prisoner.

"He has demonstrated not merely the deepest remorse, but a determination to make something of his life," he said.

Mr Fowler added that Wilcox had a supportive family.

He said that prior to meeting Miss Beck, he had suffered a traumatic break-up of a six-year relationship.

"He is a person who realises now that he must rise above this period of his life where he lost his way," he added.

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