Man is cleared over £2,500 arson

A GAINSBOROUGH man walked free from court after being cleared of setting fire to a block of garages which caused damage estimated at £2,500.

David Pepper, 20, had denied helping Gainsborough woman, Joanne Thompson, 36, start the blaze on the corner of Priory Close and Dunstall Walk.

Thompson, 36, of Upton Walk, has admitted a charge of arson but a jury at Lincoln Crown Court cleared Pepper of any involvement after a two day trial.

The jury heard how the fire broke out just hours after Thompson told another neighbour, Scott Jordan, of her plan to target the garages.

They heard how Thompson had become involved in argument with another resident, Mark Cutler, after a recent split.

In a statement Mr Jordan said: “She said she was going to set fire to the garage where his dad’s car was parked.”

Chris Lowe, prosecuting, said: “This wasn’t just a random attack. It was a deliberate and motivated arson.”

Giving evidence, Pepper’s former girlfriend, Natalie Willoughton, claimed she saw Thompson and Pepper preparing washing up bottles containing turps before going for a walk and carrying out the midnight attack.

But Pepper insisted he had no part in throwing the bottles into the garage, telling the jury: “Joanne did it.”

Mr Lowe said: “It was quite clear to the fire officers who attended that this was no accident. They could tell because the garages had no power supply.”

Pepper, of Frampton Terrace, Gainsborough, denied the arson which occurred on 28th October 2010.

Judge Sean Morris adjourned sentence on Thompson until next month, pending a probation report.