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9 September 2014, 16:25
An arsonist who set his flat on fire after being served an eviction notice laughed when he was told he had almost trapped his upstairs neighbour and her two children in the blaze.
Jake Walters started the fire in a revenge attack after being told he would have to leave his home in Augustine Road, Gravesend, in May last year for excessive noise and anti-social behaviour, Kent Police said.
The 22-year-old was jailed for 30 months at Maidstone Crown Court after he pleaded guilty to charges of arson with intent and being reckless as to whether life was endangered and theft.
CCTV footage showed Walters walking his dog to a nearby petrol station on the night of the fire where staff reported a diesel theft to police later that evening.
Walters' upstairs neighbour and her children, aged five and nine, escaped the property after being alerted to acrid smoke billowing from the door of the defendant's flat by another neighbour, police said.
Forensic investigators found flammable liquid had been poured around Walters' flat and evidence indicated at least two areas of ignition in the hallway and living area.
Walters was arrested at his family home and laughed his way through a police interview, a force spokesman said.
He said Walters told his father he had set his flat on fire because he wanted to be relocated to another town.
Walters later told his uncle that he did not care about the welfare of the occupants of the upstairs flat, adding: "They grassed me up to the council."
Detective Constable James Crouch said: "Walters set his flat ablaze with highly-flammable diesel and with absolutely no regard for the lives of others.
"He showed no remorse for his actions during the investigation and would not engage with officers at any stage.
"Being trapped in a house fire is every family's worst nightmare.
"Forensic evidence showed investigators this fire would have quickly spread out of control.
"If it wasn't for the quick thinking of other residents, the mother and her children who lived above Walters' flat could have been seriously injured or worse."