A jilted bride torched her fiance’s home after he called off their marriage when she threw hot potatoes at him, a court heard.
Catherine Jarvis, 54, was due to marry Colin Jarvis, 55, after the couple had been engaged for a year.
Catherine, a former wedding dress shop owner, was so keen to marry that she changed her surname by deed poll months before their planned big day.
When Colin called off the wedding, his bride-to-be stormed to his flat before using a ladder to climb in over the balcony and set fire to furniture inside.
Jarvis watched the fire and was arrested after Colin tipped off the police, but she denied involvement and police later dropped the investigation.
But Colin’s insistence that his ex was responsible saw the case reopened and Jarvis changed her plea to guilty on the first day of a trial.
Jarvis had been experiencing ’emotional turmoil’ at the time of the fire, Exeter Crown Court was told.
She admitted arson and was given a suspended jail sentence and told she had come within an inch of going to prison.
Speaking after the case Colin, a painter, said: "We were due to be married, I called it off. That’s what triggered it all.
"We’d been together for a good two years or so, engaged for about 12 months of that.
"She changed her name to Jarvis because she was living with me.
"A few days later I was working away, in Surrey, and my neighbour rang me and said my house was on fire.
"I’ve lived there for 30 years, it’s my castle – I’ve done a lot of work on the house over the years.
"I set off for home and called the police because it was obvious to me Cath had started it.
"She was stood outside watching the fire. She was arrested that same day, she was in the police van when I got there.
"She denied it and the police told us they were dropping the case but I appealed the decision and I got them to look at it again."
Colin said he ended the relationship after she threw hot potatoes and an ornamental crab at him, Devon Live reports.
He said: "She had thrown roast potatoes at me.
"When she hit me with the crab it was over.
”It took me a good while to get her out, a month or so."
Fire crews put the blaze out but not before several thousand pounds worth of damage had been caused.
The court heard how the defendant had even put in a £15,000 insurance claim because most of the damaged items belonged to her.
Judge David Evans said: "There’s been an element of lying. It was a thoroughly dishonest insurance claim.
"It seems you were in some sort of emotional turmoil about recent events and you were irritated about how he behaved.
"Having called him earlier in the morning and discovering he was out at work you went around to his property and used a ladder in the backyard to access a balcony.
"You took the opportunity to sit down and play with a cigarette lighter, waving it underneath the tassels of a seat.
"It seems to me that what you did that day and the approach to these proceedings has been thoroughly dishonest.
"You thought you’d got away with it. It was only because of the persistence of Mr Jarvis who knew, as anyone with a reasonable frame of mind would, that you were the only candidate for starting that fire.
"You watched as the fire service dealt with the incident. Thankfully the harm was not catastrophic as it could have been and there were no persons hurt or injured.
"There was upset and irritation which gave rise to your bizarre behaviour and your conduct throughout had been thoroughly dishonest."
He jailed Jarvis for 21 months but suspended the sentence for two years. She was given 150 hours of unpaid work and told to pay £3,000 compensation.
Emily Pitts, mitigating, said Jarvis had not been out for revenge.
"There was a lack of consequential thinking," she said. "Her life has now moved on."
The defendant has one previous conviction for benefit fraud almost 20 years ago. She had previously run a wedding dress business.
Her brother had recently died in a fishing accident off Plymouth but her life was now more stable and she was in a new relationship.
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