Gosport arsonist found guilty of trapping his lover and a child inside burning home
A MAN has been found guilty of recklessly endangering four people’s lives – including a young child and his lover – who were forced to jump out of a window from a burning Gosport flat.
Arsonist Scott Mawdsley, 29, of Greenlea Grove, Gosport, was found guilty of arson being reckless as to whether life endangered by a majority jury verdict at Portsmouth Crown Court yesterday.
But the defendant was cleared of the more serious charge of arson with intent to endanger life – following the fire at Jervis Drive last October.
Mawdsley had taken the oath on the stand where he denied he was the culprit behind the blaze that left his 52-year-old partner Paula Croucher, her son John Dine, his partner Natalie Traynor and their four year old child trapped inside.
The court heard that a drunk Mawdsley stormed over to Mr Dine’s flat before ‘banging’ and ‘kicking’ the door before setting alight to the flat after getting no response, leaving all four desperate people trapped inside ‘screaming for help’ fearing they ‘would die’.
The defendant had claimed he was not at the flat when the fire started – with him saying he had been sleeping all day after ‘drinking six bottles of Becks beer’ in the morning.
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.’
During the trial Mawdsley had repeatedly said he had not been at the flat when the fire started before adding he had no need to go there to find his girlfriend Ms Croucher.
He told jurors: ‘I knew she would come back to me – she always does.’
But Mr Sawyer told Mawdsley: ‘You went to your house to collect anything you could from your house to make a fire because you were so annoyed Paula was in (Mr Dine’s flat) and would not come out.’
Mawdsley will now be sentenced on Thursday, June 20.