Woman tells of horror after Waterlooville home was destroyed by man she spurned

DESTROYED Suzie Chesworth, who was the victim of arsonist Stephen Armstrong, inset.
DESTROYED Suzie Chesworth, who was the victim of arsonist Stephen Armstrong, inset.
Assistant Chief Constable Scott Chilton and District Commander Superintendent Maggie Blyth. Picture: Malcolm Wells

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WHEN Suzie Chesworth’s home was set on fire by a man obsessed with her, she lost everything.

Now the 24-year-old has spoken of her horror at finding out that someone she thought of as a friendly neighbour could do such a thing.

ARSONIST Stephen Armstrong

ARSONIST Stephen Armstrong

As previously reported, Stephen Armstrong was convicted of arson after a trial last week and warned he faces a jail sentence later this month.

The mum-of-two, who was at a friend’s home when Armstrong broke in and set fire to her bed, said: ‘When I found out I was crying, I was devastated, all my belongings were gone.

‘I lost everything, it’s sentimental things like my children’s name tags from the hospital, baby photos and their first blankets. I’ve had to start afresh. Everything is gone, now I haven’t got anything.

‘That night I was petrified something else was going to happen.’

Single dad Armstrong caused £21,000 worth of damage to Miss Chesworth’s home in London Road, Waterlooville, in March last year.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard the 54-year-old, who lived in the flat below Miss Chesworth, wanted to get back at her after she spurned his advances.

Miss Chesworth, whose young children live with their grandparents, said: ‘To begin with we were neighbours and it was fine.

‘I would spend time there having cups of tea and talking to his daughter. It was just normal.’

But after a while Armstrong’s behaviour towards her changed.

‘He used to make sly remarks and tell me he loved me,’ she said.

‘He just went on for ages and he said we should run away together and start again and I just kept saying “no”. I made it perfectly clear I wasn’t interested.’

During the trial Miss Chesworth gave her evidence from behind a screen as she could not bear to face Armstrong.

‘The trial was nerve-wracking,’ she said.

‘I didn’t even want to be in the same room as him.’

On the night of the fire Armstrong had wanted to watch a film with Miss Chesworth but she went to see a friend instead.

The prosecution said he then started the blaze before dialling 999 himself.

Miss Chesworth said: ‘When I found out it was him I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked. I didn’t know what to think. We were all getting along and then that happened, it’s crazy. I’m glad he has been found guilty and that he is going to get a custodial sentence, he obviously isn’t safe to be out.’