Teenage arsonist gets life

A teenage arsonist who killed a grandmother by setting a fire outside her house in Nottingham has been jailed for life.

William Rowbotham, 19, Raymede Drive, Nottingham, denied murder, arson with intent to endanger life and burglary but was convicted of the charges, police said. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered to serve a minimum of 14 years, police confirmed.

Rowbotham pushed a wheelie bin to the front door of 53-year-old Susie Southern's home, before filling it with wood and setting light to it last June.

The blaze quickly caught on to the care worker's semi-detached house, melting the front door and filling the property with black, acrid smoke, Nottingham Crown Court heard.

Mrs Southern's body was found inside but her 45-year-old husband Tony managed to escape through a window. He suffered first degree burns to his shoulders and severe cuts after he fell through the roof to his conservatory as he tried to reach his wife.

In a statement issued after the hearing, Tony Southern said: "My family has lost a wonderful and loving wife, mother and grandmother. We have lost everything. Our family home, which took 28 years to build, has gone forever. The physical injuries I suffered have healed but my soul has been scarred for life.

"Knowing Rowbotham has been jailed is a comfort, but he still has the luxury of breathing. We are the ones with the life sentence. I never got the chance to say goodbye to Sue, but I will always remember her the way she was - a beautiful, kind and caring person."

During the trial the court heard that immediately after the fire started Rowbotham rang 999, telling the operator: "Everything is on fire and I started it."

When interviewed later by police, he was forced to admit he made the call after they played him the recording. But he said he didn't remember his whereabouts between visiting his cousin's house earlier on June 24 of last year and when he was arrested in the early hours of the following day.

Peter Joyce QC, prosecuting, said the Southerns had four daughters and five grandchildren. They were a quiet couple who kept "themselves to themselves", he said.