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9 March 2015, 16:26
A jealous boyfriend who left the country after setting up a revenge arson attack on another man's home in South Shields has been jailed.
Alan Gudgeon was furious that his girlfriend had visited a male friend for their regular coffee and a chat, so recruited Daniel Tindle, 31, to spark a blaze at his door.
Gudgeon, 45, fled to Spain while the arson attack was carried out but telephone records linked him to the crime.
At Newcastle Crown Court Gudgeon was jailed for four-and-a-half years and Tindle was jailed for four years and two months.
Judge Robin Mairs said:
"The damage was limited. The potential damage was enormous."
"I bear in mind there was no attempt to put the petrol through the letter box and set fire to the internal of the flat but that doesn't diminish the seriousness or utter stupidity of what you did."
"That fire was lit, I have no doubt, at Alan Gudgeon's behest to send a threat, a message, a warning to the victim to stay away from Alan Gudgeon's wife."
"That threat worked to the extent it has left him as a very frightened man."
The judge said he was satisfied Tindle, who was on a suspended sentence at the time, was paid for his involvement.
The heard the victm's front door, the only exit at his home at Laygate, South Shields, was set alight but the fire was put out before anyone was hurt.
Tindle, of Coach Road Estate, Washington, admitted arson being reckless to whether life would be endangered.
Gudgeon, of Defoe Avenue, South Shields, denied the charge but was found guilty by a jury after a trial.
Both men were cleared of the more serious offence of arson with intent to endanger life.
Prosecutor Michael Hodson told the court during the trial:
"The prosecution case is Mr Gudgeon, out of probably a sense of jealous or anger, got Mr Tindle to take some petrol around to the house and pour petrol on the door and set it on fire."
"Mr Gudgeon, having orgainsed that, because he didn't like the association, however innocent with Karen Coutts and the man, having put Mr Tindle up to the idea, got his daughter to book a flight to Spain at the material time when the fire was lit."
The court heard Miss Coutts had visited the friend on December 29 2013, as they "often got together for a coffee".
The following day, the man had a visit from a man if "my lass" had been at the house.
Proscutors claim the man was Gudgeon, who had been following Miss Coutts because he was "wanting to know who she was with".
The court heard Gudgeon flew to Spain on January 3 last year and the fire was the following day.
Telephone records showed the men were in contact shortly before and after the fire was started.
Mr Hodson said the Spanish trip was to give Gudgeon an alibi for when the fire took place.
Geoff Knowles, defending, said Tindle has work as an HGV driver an was "stupid" to get involved in a situation that had nothing to do with him.
The court heard Gudgeon has been a good father to his family and has been out of trouble for some years.