Arsonist set fire to terraced Hartlepool home after being kicked out of party next door

An arsonist has been jailed for setting fire to a terraced house in a Hartlepool street after being thrown out of a party next door.

Sunday, 18th July 2021, 4:45 am

Stuart West was caught on CCTV in the vicinity of the house while it burned, Teesside Crown Court heard.

He set light to the property in Melrose Street in two places in the early hours of the morning while the householder was at the party next door.

West, 35, who had taken a cocktail of drink and drugs, had been asked earlier to leave the party.

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Stuart West (inset) has been jailed for four and a half years for setting fire to a house in Melrose Street, Hartlepool.

Paul Reid, prosecuting, said: “The defendant was very drunk and falling over and was asked to leave.

“A few minutes later [the neighbour] smelled burning and realised that his house which was next door was on fire.

"Police and the fire service were called.”

CCTV from the street showed him leaving the party at 5.31am and reappeared at the front of the house next door.

Stuart West admitted arson.

Mr Reid added: "He was there for about four minutes and the fire was seen through the front window. The def left the house carrying something under his arm."

Police initially spoke to him on nearby Charterhouse Street and arrested him later that morning.

“Further examination of CCTV recordings tie this defendant to the scene of the fire,” said Mr Reid.

West, previously of Hartlepool now Middlesbrough Road, South Bank, pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered and possession of a blade, both on March 4.

Melrose Street Hartlepool. Picture by FRANK REID

He has a bad criminal record including another arson when he set fire to his then girlfriend’s house in Rugby Street which saw him jailed for 40 months in 2017.

Ian Mullarkey, defending, said: “When one looks at the circumstances it’s plain that the defendant knew when the fire was set the house was unoccupied because he had been in the company of the householder in the neighbouring address moments before.

“The defendant recognises he behaved irresponsibly. He regrets his actions and wishes to apologise for what he did.”

West was jailed for four and a half years.

In sentencing, the judge Recorder Nathan Adams, said: “This was a fire that took hold [and] caused considerable damage.

"This is a serious matter. It’s not one that you are new to.

"You have an appalling criminal record.”

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