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Man jailed after setting fire to Horsham home while children slept

A man has been sentenced to six-and-a-half years, after pleading guilty to setting light to his ex-girlfriend’s home in Horsham.

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A man has been jailed after pleading guilty to setting light to a house in which his ex-girlfriend was sleeping, along with his four-month-old baby in Horsham.

Richard Rowe, 31, an agricultural salesman of Blackgate Lane, Pulborough, was on bail with conditions not to contact his victim or go to her home in College Road, Southwater, after he had been arrested on suspicion of assault a few days earlier.

However, just after 2.30am on Saturday, July 8 last year, he went to the house and set fires at the front door and in a dog kennel close to the rear kitchen window and directly underneath the bedroom window where one of the victim’s young children, a four-year-old, was sleeping. As neighbours were alerted to the fire and went to help, the victim held her four-month-old baby out of a first floor window to protect it from smoke billowing through the house until a neighbour climbed a ladder to rescue the youngster.

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Outside, those arriving to help were shocked to find a dog on a chain pulling the blazing kennel behind it as it tried desperately to escape the flames. The dog was rescued, but was treated for burns.

Rowe was arrested by police at an address in Sullington around lunchtime on the same day. His car was tracked using automatic number plate recognition and triangulation work on his phone showed that he had been at Pease Pottage services around 2am where he purchased a can of petrol.

On Wednesday (March 7), he appeared by video-link from HMP Lewes at Hove Crown Court for sentencing after pleading guilty to arson with intent to endanger life at an earlier hearing.

In sentencing him to six-and-a-half years, including three years on licence upon his release, HH Judge David Rennie said:

“You set two seats of fire in a cold and calculated manner. It beggars belief that you did that knowing that there were two children in the house.

“Lives may not have been lost – but lives have been ruined. The victims will never be able to understand why you did what you did that night.”

Detective Constable Rees Hopcraft said:

“Rowe initially tried to mislead us to his whereabouts that night, but we were quickly able to establish just where he had been and when. There can be no doubt that his actions were beyond simple arson and were aimed at deliberately targeting the lives of those inside the house.”

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Crime

Crawley Council warns of rise of conmen knocking on doors across town

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The message is very clear – Be scam aware!

Crawley Borough Council is warning residents to be scam aware following a rise in reports of conmen knocking on doors.

The council has recently received reports of two different scams, where residents are asked to pay thousands of pounds up front for work that isn’t needed or shouldn’t cost anywhere near that amount.

In the first scam, a group of men were knocking on residents’ doors claiming to be from a boiler company and saying that they had been sent to check on boilers.

This happened to a resident in Bewbush, who was told their boiler needed to be fixed at a cost of £4,000, which he was told to withdraw from his bank without telling anyone. This particular tenant was vulnerable but fortunately the bank staff knew him well and questioned why he was withdrawing such a large amount of money.

His support worker was then notified and the incident was reported to the police. Additional security measures have been put in place for this tenant.

The second scam was reported in Gossops Green, where a resident was scammed for fencing at a cost of £3,500. This was reported to the police and fortunately the cheque was cancelled before the scammers got their money.

Scams come in many different forms and not just on the doorstep. Other scams include emails, phone calls and text messages. We are encouraging tenants to be extra careful when buying products or services online or in person.

Some of the signs to look out for include:

*             You are asked to pay money up front, for example to cover delivery costs or to ‘release funds’

*             You have ‘won a prize’ in a lottery or competition you have never heard of, much less entered

*             You are pressurised or hurried into making a decision – e.g. told to ‘act now’ as the price will go up if you don’t buy immediately

*             You are told to not tell anyone else about it – for example ‘it’s an exclusive deal only for you’

*             Unsolicited emails, phone calls, text messages or letters

*             Emails from sources you don’t recognise that include attached documents or other files

*             Emails that appear to be from your bank, HMRC or another trustworthy source that ask you to reveal personal data, such as your account details.

Councillor Peter Lamb, Leader of Crawley Borough Council, said:

“There will always be a small number of people who seek to take advantage of others, but we can protect ourselves from scams by taking a little extra time to check people are who they claim to be.”

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