A man who lost his temper in drink assaulted his partner – and then tried to set fire to the front and back doors of a neighbour’s house where she sought refuge has been jailed.
Today a judge hit out at a Crown Prosecution Service decision not to proceed to trial on a charge of arson, being reckless as to whether lives would be endangered.
Defendant Liam Edwards, 25, of Erw Las in Pwllglas near Ruthin, admitted a straight arson charge – which was accepted by the prosecution at an earlier hearing – and assaulting his partner.
He was jailed for 27 months at Mold Crown Court but Judge Rhys Rowlands warned that he would have received a lot more if he had been convicted of the original charge.
The court heard that she was now pregnant with his child and that Edwards’ instructions were that they were reconciled.
The judge said that night in April, following a sustained attack on his partner, when her hair was pulled and she was punched, she went next door.
But in temper “you pursued her next door and tried to set the two doors, front and back, alight.
“On any view, it was very dangerous behaviour on the part of a drunken man,” Judge Rowlands said.
The judge said that understandably, in view of the fact that the two fires had been started, the defendant had originally been charged with arson being reckless as to whether life would be endangered and a trial date had been set.
“In the event the CPS had a change of heart, seemingly largely influenced by the attitude and present circumstances of your partner.”
The judge said that she would not have been needed as a witness in the trial.
The issue for the jury would have been whether those in the house – a total of six people – had been put at risk, whether their lives were put in danger, and that the defendant would have been aware of such a risk.
“I simply do not understand why that decision was taken. In my judgement, it was plainly a matter that should have been left to the jury.”
It made no sense at all that the CPS had decided that it was not in the public interest to proceed with the original charge.
It was right that the public should be aware that sentence he was now about to impose was probably less than half what he would have received had he been convicted of the original charge.
The decision by the CPS was, from his point of view, “incomprehensible,” he said.
Judge Rowlands said that the defendant had tried to set fire to the front and back doors. Fortunately, they did not take hold.
“You simply lost your temper in drink. You attacked the victim in her own home.
“She was pregnant at the time.
“It was a sustained attack when you punched her repeatedly and grabbed her by the hair.”
Prosecuting barrister Maria Massellis said that following the assault on Ceri Evans, she and the children went next door.
He was heard searching the shed and then flames were seen by the back door of the neighbour’s house.
They were quickly put out and scorch marks were also found at the front door.
Arrested Edwards denied the offences and claimed that he had acted in self-defence
Miss Evans told in a victim impact statement how she feared his behaviour particularly when he has consumed alcohol.
Simon Killeen, defending, said that references spoke highly of the defendant.
He had been brought up in an abusive household, his father died when he was 11 and he went out of control.
At 25 he had issues of drugs and alcohol which he was eager to address.
His partner wanted him back and regarded him as a good father.
He wanted to make significant changes in his life.
The court heard that the defendant had admitted that he picked up rags, and set them alight at the door handles before leaving the scene. He said no accelerant was used.