Bully jailed for petrol attack on ex partner - Watford

01/11/2013

A spiteful bully who terrorised his ex-partner by dousing her in lighter fluid gel and then threatening to set fire to her Watford home, has today, Friday, 01 November 2013, been jailed.

Craig Britton told the woman how everyone at his funeral would hate him even though he considered himself to be a nice person.

St Albans Crown Court heard that the woman was convinced she was going to die as Britton, who had been drinking heavily, clasped a lighter in his hand.

Britton 31, of Hemming Way in Watford, appeared for sentence after admitting a charge of making a threat to kill.

The court heard the incident happened at the woman's home in Watford on 26 August last year.

Mr Neil Sandys prosecuting said Britton and the woman had previously been in a turbulent relationship in which he had been frequently violent to her over the years.

Recorder Elizabeth Isaacs QC, hearing the case, was told how on occasions he had dragged her by her hair, grabbed her, and damaged property belonging to her. He had screamed abuse at her, spat in her face, and even kicked her in the back when she was pregnant. In fact by last August the court was told the woman had had enough of his violent ways and the relationship had come to an end.

On 26 August she was alone in her home and had gone to bed when the defendant called at her front door begging to be let in so he could collect some clothes. She agreed to let him in, but the court was told once over the threshold his demeanour completely changed and he became aggressive. He began drinking heavily, downing glasses of wine and spirits as well.

Mr Sandys said he broke the woman's mobile phone by hurling it at a wall.

As the woman's fear grew, Britton refused to let her leave the house and on one occasion dragged her from the front door as she tried to leave.

The prosecutor said there had been a BBQ at the woman's home a week earlier and Britton discovered a large bottle of lighter fluid gel.

"He squirted it all over her swinging his arm left and right. He squirted it over the walls in the sitting room. He took his t-shirt off and squirted gel over himself," said Mr Sandys.

He went on: "She realised he had a lighter in his hand and said: "Please don't do this."

The woman was to tell police officers later: "He was saying he was going to burn us all and how at his funeral everyone would hate him, but what a nice person he was. I was in a panic, I was petrified. I thought I was going to die there and then."

The court was told as Britton knelt bare chested on the floor in the living room she managed to find her car keys and was able to flee outside to her car and drive a short distance to her friend's home. Even then said Mr Sandys her ordeal wasn't over as the defendant arrived outside in his own car. When she told him she was calling the police, he drove off and was later arrested.

The court heard that following the incident the woman took out a restraining order which prevented Britton from contacting her. However, weeks later he began texting and telephoning her and was eventually remanded into custody.

Britton's previous offending had begun in the mid 1990s and he had chalked up 18 convictions for a variety of offences including theft, robbery, criminal damage, and common assault.

In Britton's defence it was said he and the victim were not well suited to each other because of the volatile nature of the relationship. He had also been effected by the deaths of members of his family.

Passing sentence Recorder Isaacs QC said that even now the woman is on anti depressants because of the abusive relationship she'd endured at the hands of Britton. She told Britton that he'd abused the trust the woman had placed in him and what had taken place in her own home last August was "sustained" and lasted a number of hours.

She jailed him for two years and six months.

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