'Infatuated' arsonist set fire to Leeds mum's home and car as he was jealous of her relationship with another man

A man who carried out an arson attack at the home of a woman he was 'infatuated' with has been jailed for four years.

Thursday, 26th August 2021, 4:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 26th August 2021, 5:27 pm

Michael Watson put lives in danger when he torched the victim's car in the middle of the night and the blaze spread to her home.

Watson, 33, carried out the attack at the house in Bramley after becoming jealous of her relationship with another man.

Leeds Crown Court heard the victim was at home with her partner and her six-year-old son when Watson targeted the property at 2am on September 20 last year.

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Arsonist Michael Watson was jailed for four years at Leeds Crown Court

Watson and the victim know each other from school and had previously been friends.

Ken Green, prosecuting, said: "The defendant wanted to be in a relationship with (the victim) and sent messages to that effect through Facebook."

The court heard Watson became aware that the woman was living with another man and was jealous.

The woman left her Audi car parked outside her home on September 19 and was awoken by a loud bang in the early hours of the next morning.

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She looked out of a window and saw flames coming from the front garden.

Watson walked over to the Audi, poured petrol on it and set the vehicle on fire.

The defendant then got into a Ford Fiesta and was driven away.

Mr Green said the fire reached the front door of her home.

Police and firefighters were called and the fire was stopped from spreading further into the house.

The Ford Fiesta was involved in a crash on Swinnow Lane shortly after the incident.

Police officers went to Watson's address but he was not at home.

The property smelled strongly of petrol and there were spots of blood on the front door.

Officers found a blue jacket inside the property which matched the description of what the arsonist had been wearing.

It had burn marks on the arm and shoulder area and Watson's bank card was in one of the pockets.

Watson was arrested at his mother's home the next day.

He denied being responsible for the fire but accepted that he had "issues" with the victim and her partner.

The court heard £5,000 worth of damage was caused to the Audi and it had to be written off.

Watson, of Swinnow Road, Leeds, pleaded guilty to arson and arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

He has previous convictions for criminal damage and producing cannabis.

The victim provided a statement to the court describing how she had suffered from nightmares and anxiety.

She also described how her son also struggled to sleep and was frightened when at home.

He was too scared to attend a Bonfire Night event because of what he had witnessed.

Sean Smith, mitigating, said Watson pleaded guilty to the offences at an early stage.

Mr Smith said the defendant had been working hard to address his offending in prison and would be able to return to his job when released from custody.

Sentencing, Recorder Abdul Iqbal QC said: "The impact has been significant and profound and it continues.

"It is significant psychological harm that you have caused.

"It is not about the value of the amount of damage. It is the risk that you created to the loss of human life."