Arson trial hears four-year-old girl was dropped out of window in bid to escape Gosport flat fire

Forensic examiners at a building in Jervis Drive, Gosport, on October 24 in 2018.
Forensic examiners at a building in Jervis Drive, Gosport, on October 24 in 2018.

A MAN has gone on trial accused of endangering the lives of four people – including a young child – who were forced to jump out of a window from a burning Gosport flat. 

Scott Mawdsley, 29, of Greenlea Grove, Gosport, is accused of arson after four people fled a block of flats in the town in last October.

Forensic examiners at the block of flats in Jervis Drive, Gosport, on October 24

Forensic examiners at the block of flats in Jervis Drive, Gosport, on October 24

Portsmouth Crown Court heard how the defendant went round to Jervis Drive before ‘banging’ on the door where his partner Paula Croucher was temporarily staying with her son John Dine, his partner and their four year old child.

The court heard a blaze was then allegedly started by Mawdsley on October 24 last year, leaving the terrified quartet trapped in the first floor flat before they escaped out of a window.

Prosecutor Daniel Sawyer said: ‘The defendant went round to the flat where he was banging on the door saying he wanted to see Paula.

‘After getting no response he came back later and started banging on the door again. The occupants smelled smoke and saw the front door alight.

‘They couldn’t get out the door and retreated into the flat as the fire kept burning. 

‘They evacuated through a window on the first floor including dropping a four-year-old girl out who had to be caught by neighbours.’

Mr Sawyer, outlining the crown’s case to jurors, added: ‘We say the fire was deliberately started to endanger the lives of those inside.

‘Neighbours say the defendant was outside at the time of the fire. Mr Mawdsley denies it was him and says he was not there.’

No one was injured following the fire but those inside were taken to hospital suffering with smoke inhalation.

Police arrested the defendant after the incident who was subsequently charged before being remanded in custody.

The trial is expected to last four days.

Mawdsley denies arson with intent to endanger life, and arson being reckless as to whether life endangered.

(Proceeding)