Arsonist who set fire to Havant house to block victims’ escape is jailed

Benjamin Peace
Benjamin Peace
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A MAN who set fire to a house to block the escape route of his brother he had fallen out with has been jailed for five years.

Benjamin Peace, 25, flew into a blind rage after having a row with his brother, resulting in him threatening him with a kitchen knife, smashing him in the face and locking him in a burning room - which also had his brother’s friend and mum inside.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard how the defendant poured white spirit on the carpet by the lounge doorway of his mum’s Havant house in April before setting it ablaze with a lighter to stop his brother escaping.

But despite the engulfing flames, the terrified trio fought their way through the inferno to flee to safety before the fire was extinguished.

Prosecutor Christopher Hall told the court: ‘Mr Peace came in with a kitchen knife and challenged his brother to a fight before he struck him to the head with his fist.

‘His brother’s friend said he was going to leave but was told “your not going anywhere”. Mr Peace then lit the fire.

‘He realised what he had done and tried to put out the fire by taking off his trousers to stamp it out. He was then later spotted over a motorway bridge by a Samaritan.

‘His brother and friend managed to escape by going through the flames very promptly.’

The court heard how Peace, of no fixed address, had two previous convictions for arson and had ‘tried to get himself run over a week before’ after standing in a road holding a metal bar.

Judge Robert Hill, sentencing Peace who pleaded guilty to arson and assault, said: ‘You set alight a house to endanger life after you were angry at your brother over his treatment of your mum - but she was in the room.

‘Another disturbing aspect of this was that you were holding a knife while threatening him.

‘You lost the plot when you set fire to the doorway before realising what you had done.

‘You were a cigarette width from being in more trouble. You are a man who is capable of endangering life. You may not be so lucky next time.’