Student teacher, 20, who tried to set fire to his ex-girlfriend’s home by pushing blazing wheelie bin up against her front door in bizarre bid to ‘gain her affections’ is jailed for six years
- Conor Egan, 20, pushed flaming bins against front door of Phoebe Alton’s digs
- Chester Crown Court heard the couple’s relationship had broken down
- He hoped she’d seek comfort with him not knowing he was the one responsible
Conor Egan, 20, pushed flaming wheelie bins against the front door of Phoebe Alton’s student house
A student teacher who tried to set fire to his ex-girlfriends home in a bizarre bid to win her back has been jailed for six years.
Conor Egan, 20, pushed flaming wheelie bins against the front door of Phoebe Alton’s student house in the hope it would scare her into getting back together with him.
Chester Crown Court heard the couple’s relationship had broken down during their time at university – but Egan was keen on rekindling the romance.
He started fires at her property on Lorne Street in Chester’s Garden Quarter on two separate occasions last May in a bid to ‘gain her affections.’
He hoped she would seek comfort with him not knowing he was the one responsible for the blazes.
On Monday Egan, of Beverley, East Riding, was sentenced to six years detention, and made subject of a restraining order banning him from contacting Miss Alton.
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Sentencing, Judge Steven Everett said the case must be dealt with ‘extremely severely’ as arson could easily lead to death.
He told Egan: ‘This could have caused so much devastation to property as well, of course, as the real risk of life being lost.
‘Fire is such a difficult thing to control once it takes hold and that is why sentences for arson are substantial.
‘It gives me no pleasure to see a young man throw his life away as you have.
On Monday Egan, of East Riding, was sentenced to six years detention at Chester Crown Court
‘Only time will tell if you can rebuild it when you are released.’
Prosecutor Maria Masselis said the defendant and Miss Alton had begun a relationship in October 2017.
However, it became ‘increasingly on/off’ after Christmas despite Egan’s attempts to make it more serious.
On the evening of May 25 last year, Miss Alton was on a night out and did not return home until 3am the next morning.
Unaware of this, Egan, who no previous convictions, had twice gone to her student property to set a wheelie bin on fire.
On the first occasion, one of her housemates had been woken at around 1am to see flames three feet high coming from the bin that was placed two metres from the house.
The fire service was called to extinguish it – but two hours later they were back as Egan had set the bin on fire again and pushed it against the front door.
Flames were said to be ‘creeping up the building’ leaving housemates scared about why they were being targeted.
Police were called and firefighters blocked the letter box to prevent anyone posting flaming material into the property.
Just three days later, on May 29, Miss Alton and her housemates were woken by the smoke alarm at 4am.
The court heard Egan has now been thrown off his course at the University of Chester (pictured is the Riverside Campus)
A bin had once again been pushed against the front door and set alight.
They also heard a crackling sound from the rear of the house and discovered a burning bin bag outside the back door. Firefighters were called to extinguish the flames.
Suspicions were raised about Egan’s involvement, but when Miss Alton called him he assured her he was not behind the fires.
However, witnesses had seen a man leaving the scene and police officers found clothes at his address that matched the description.
They also checked his phone and discovered he was ‘active’ at the time of the fires rather than asleep, as he had claimed.
He was arrested on May 29 and denied any involvement but later pleaded guilty to two counts of arson and two of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.
The court heard Egan has now been thrown off his course at the University of Chester and will not be able to pursue his chosen career as a primary school teacher.
Peter Barnett, defending, told the court it was a ‘sad case’ of a young man who was 19 at the time of the offence.
He said: ‘He clearly acted out of a lack of maturity, unable to accept the end of a relationship.
‘This was not a revenge attack; it was to gain her affections.’
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