Father-of-eleven jailed for five years after St Neots arson attack

Mark Rose.

Mark Rose. - Credit: Archant

A father-of-eleven has been jailed for five years following an early-morning arson attack which forced residents of a block of flats to flee their homes.

Mark Rose, 42, of Peer Road, Eaton Socon, appeared at Peterborough Crown Court on Friday (July 11) where he was sentenced to four years and six months imprisonment for arson with intent in relation to a fire in Pepys Road and eight months, to run consecutively, for assault occasioning actual bodily harm and resisting arrest. He admitted both charges at an earlier hearing.

The lead up to the arson attack started overnight on January 25-26 this year. Rose had been to Cambridge with some friends, while his partner Tina Williamson stayed at home. During the course of the evening, he phoned her and said that his friends had left him and he did not know how to get home.

Miss Williamson fell asleep on the sofa but was woken at about 2.30am when Rose, who is a window cleaner, returned.

He was described as shouting and screaming about needing money for a taxi, before throwing a saucepan rack on the floor.

Peter Dahlsen, prosecuting, said: “Miss Williamson asked Mr Rose what he was doing and then she saw him bending down to pick up one of the saucepans. She believed he was about to tidy up the mess but instead he struck her over the head with the saucepan.”

Miss Williamson sustained a cut to her eye and the back of her head, and bruising to her knee.

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Police were called and when they arrived, Rose resisted arrest, telling them: “I am a Freemason, I know my rights”.

Mr Dahlsen told the court it was apparent to officers that Rose was drunk. He was bailed by police on that day with the condition not to contact Miss Williamson or to visit Whitehall Walk in the town, where they lived.

Three days later, on January 28, Gary Boyce and Nicola Moorley were at home in bed in their flat in Pepys Road at about 11.30pm when they heard the letter box rattle and some muffled shouting.

Miss Moorley got up to investigate when she received a phone call from a withheld number. She was verbally abused and accused of being a “grass”. At 1.15am, she heard the letterbox move again and smelled petrol. Mr Boyce then tried to hold the letterbox shut but the door was set alight.

Mr Dahlsen added: “The flat began to fill with smoke and they both escaped by climbing out of the window in the living room. There was extensive damage.” The other residents in the block of flats also had to flee the building while firefighters extinguished the flames and cleared the smoke.

Referring to the night of the assault, Christopher Johnston, mitigating, said: “Mr Rose has been told that somebody put some cocaine in his drinks and he behaved quite bizarrely that night. He seems to have gone off the deep end in a very dramatic way.

“Mr Rose is ashamed of what he did towards his partner and has expressed his sorrow to her and he has of course been visited by Miss Williamson and she has desired to spend time with him.”

He added: “He had wound himself up to a degree where he felt other people were responsible for him being estranged from Miss Williamson.

“These are isolated incidents in his background and he doesn’t behave like this normally. Mr Rose is fully accepting of his guilt in this matter.”

Judge Sean Enright, sentencing, said: “The salient features of this case are the time of night – this was a heavily built up area and neighbours had to be evacuated - also you had brought petrol to the scene.”