Husband in court for threatening to burn down house

Police at the scene of the attempted murder in Middle Street, Portsmouth

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A MARRIAGE breakdown led a husband to threaten to burn his wife’s house down.

Mark Willis grabbed a fuel can from the shed and pretended to pour petrol around the house after a row with his wife Melanie over their ongoing divorce.

Prosecutor Audrey Archer said Willis had an alcohol problem and had been drinking on the morning of the row in October last year. After arguing, Mr Willis threatened to burn the house down.

Miss Archer said: ‘Mrs Willis initially didn’t take much notice of what he said until he got out of the chair he was sitting in and went down to the garden shed. He returned to the living room area carrying a can of petrol.’

She said Mrs Willis realised the cap was still on the can as he pretended to pour petrol around the room. But she said: ‘Mrs Willis, due to his intoxicated state, genuinely feared that the defendant was capable of going on to burn the property down. She therefore immediately got on the phone to the police.’

The couple have since separated and Willis, 49, has moved out of the home his wife shares with her elderly mother in Purbrook Way, Havant, Portsmouth Crown Court heard.

Willis, of Farmleigh Road, Paulsgrove, had pleaded not guilty to threatening to destroy property but he changed his plea just as the trial was about to start. Recorder Susan Evans QC gave him a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered him to pay £480 in costs within 28 days.