Man accused of Gosport flat fire that led to a family jumping out of a window tells a court: ‘It wasn’t me’

A MAN accused of entrapping a family – including his lover – in a burning flat told a court he was not trying to track down his partner, saying: ‘I knew she would come back to me – she always does.’

Thursday, 18th April 2019, 5:15 pm
Picture: Ian Nicholson/PA Wire

Scott Mawdsley, 29, denies he was the culprit behind a fire at Jervis Drive in Gosport last October that led to a family jumping from a first floor window to escape.

Inside the burning inferno was Mawdsley’s 52-year-old girlfriend Paula Croucher, who was staying with her son John Dine and his girlfriend Natalie Traynor and their four year old daughter.

The court heard how drunk Mawdsley stormed over to Mr Dine’s flat before ‘banging’ and ‘kicking’ the door.

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He was then said to have started the inferno after getting no response, leaving all four desperate people trapped inside ‘screaming for help’ fearing they ‘would die’.

But giving evidence at Portsmouth Crown Court, the defendant said he was not at the flat when the fire started – with him claiming he had been sleeping all day after ‘drinking six bottles of Becks beer’ in the morning.

When asked under cross-examination by prosecutor Daniel Sawyer whether he had been attempting to track down Ms Croucher after the pair had argued the night before, Mawdsley said ‘no’, before conceding he tried to find her later.

He told the court: ‘I wanted to find her at that stage (later in the evening). I knew she would come back to me anyway – she always does.’

Mawdsley told jurors he rang up Ms Croucher’s mum to find out where she was but was fobbed off after being told she was at a man’s house. Mr Sawyer said: ‘Were you not curious where she was?’

The defendant struck back: ‘Why would she be cheating behind my back?’

Asked if he went to the flat at all during the day and if he was seeking out Ms Croucher, he repeatedly said: ‘No.’

Mawdsley did admit bumping into his girlfriend earlier in the day before the fire, though. Mr Sawyer said: ‘So it was pure luck you bumped into her then?’

Mawdsley responded: ‘Yes.’

The prosecutor added: ‘You went to your house to collect anything you could to make a fire because you were so annoyed Paula was in (Mr Dine’s flat) and would not come out.’

Mawdsley, of Greenlea Grove, Gosport, denies arson with intent to endanger life, and arson being reckless as to whether life endangered after the blaze block in Gosport on October 24 last year.