Woman jailed for boat fire

16 February 2011, 14:44 | Updated: 2 March 2011, 12:45

A woman who doused her ex-boyfriend's narrowboat with petrol and then set fire to it as he slept inside was behind bars today (Wednesday February 16th).

Kathleen Smith was angry that her ex, Jeremy Brewer, had finished with her when she went to his boat late at night armed with a can of petrol.

Mr Brewer told a court he woke up to find himself trapped inside the boat as the fire took hold.

At the time of the fire, in January of last year, Smith, 34, was already on bail for attacking him with a steam iron.

At St Albans Crown Court Smith, of Beechfield Road, Hemel Hempstead, was found guilty of arson with intent to endanger Mr Brewer's life on January 6 last year and assaulting him occasioning actual bodily harm in November 2009.

During her trial, the jury heard that at the time she started the fire in the early hours of January 6 last year, Smith knew he was asleep on the boat, which was moored beside a tow path on the Grand Union Canal at Boxmoor, Hemel Hempstead.

Smith had been in a relationship with Mr Brewer for some four and a half years before it finally ended in the summer of 2009.

During the trial, Mr Brewer said he had tried to finish things between them several times,  but when the relationship finally ended, he tried to stay friends with her and they remained in contact.

However, the court heard that in November 2009 he received a call from her requesting that he go to her home for a chat.

He said inside the house she began ranting and raving, telling him "I loved you, how could you do this to me? - no-one does this to me."

He said she then smashed a steam iron over his head and he had to be taken to hospital by ambulance, where he received 18 stitches.

After Smith was charged with assaulting Mr Brewer, she was granted bail with conditions that she should not visit him.

But, said Laura Blackband, prosecuting, in the early hours of January 6 last year, around 1 o'clock in the morning, she went to the boat with £3 pounds worth of petrol in a can and started the fire.

The court heard the fire was at the front of the boat and included doors into the vessel where he was asleep.

He said he was woken by the sound of "a loud thump on the front deck" and through glass panels in the door could see flames.

He made a 999 call on his mobile phone and firemen arrived to put out the flames and get him off the boat.

After the jury found Smith guilty of both charges, she was remanded in custody while pre-sentence reports are prepared, including a psychiatric report.