Waterlooville man denies starting blaze to spite woman

DENIAL Stephen Armstrong
DENIAL Stephen Armstrong
A board put up by police after the crash

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A MAN accused of an arson attack has denied setting fire to a woman’s flat because she spurned his advances.

Stephen Armstrong told a jury at Portsmouth Crown Court that he didn’t know who started the fire at Suzie Chesworth’s home in London Road, Waterlooville, but insisted it wasn’t him.

The 54-year-old, who lives in the same block, is accused of causing £21,000 worth of damage to the flat in March last year.

Christopher Wing, defending, asked him: ‘Did you start this fire because she rejected your advances?’

‘No,’ Armstrong said.

‘Did you start this fire for any other reason?’ Mr Wing asked.

‘No,’ he replied again.

The single dad told the jury he did not have any problem with Miss Chesworth, 24.

The prosecution say he set fire to her bed while she was out.

The jury had previously heard from one of Armstrong’s neighbours, Carina Marshall, who claimed he had confessed to her that he started the fire.

Asked about the alleged confession Armstrong said: ‘No, she is wrong.’

He added that he had fallen out with Miss Marshall before she went to the police.

The court was shown CCTV, which picks up the sound of someone going up to Miss Chesworth’s first floor flat but Armstrong denied it was him.

Prosecutor Richard Withey accused Armstrong of telling the jury a different version of events to what was in his written police statement.

‘It’s not wrong but it’s just written wrong,’ he said.

(Proceeding)