Arsonist locked up after pushing firework through woman's letterbox

Arsonist Robert Wilkinson <i>(Image: Durham Constabulary)</i>
Arsonist Robert Wilkinson (Image: Durham Constabulary)

An arsonist who put a firework through a woman’s letterbox has been jailed after a judge heard his attack could have proved fatal.

Robert Anthony Wilkinson had been arguing with the victim in the street last August before leaving, returning with the fireworks and used them to start the fire in the house.

He then lit them and put them through the letterbox at the address in Shotton Colliery, trapping the woman inside.

The County Durham home was badly damaged with the fire spreading to the children’s bedrooms but the woman managed to escape without injury.

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Durham Crown Court heard how the children were playing out but investigators noted the fire could have been fatal if the children had been at home as it spread so quickly.

The Northern Echo: Robert Wilkinson
The Northern Echo: Robert Wilkinson

Robert Wilkinson (Image: Durham Constabulary)

Wilkinson, of Peterlee, was identified as a suspect and promptly arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life, arson with recklessness and threats to kill.

The 30-year-old County Durham man pleaded guilty to arson with recklessness but was found guilty of the other two charges following a trial.

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And at Durham Crown Court today (June 2), he was sentenced to 11 years in prison with an extended period of four years after hearing the arson attack could have proved fatal.

Speaking after the hearing, Detective Constable Ash Hagar, of Peterlee CID, said: “This was a reckless crime that could have proved fatal so we are pleased to see justice served.

“I would also like to praise the victim for her bravery throughout the process and hope this will give her some closure.”