A man who carried out a revenge attack by torching a car outside his ex-girlfriend’s home which spread to the house has been jailed.
Tom Weedon, 21, fuelled by drink and drugs, had then gone on to set fire to another car some miles away at what he mistakenly thought was her new boyfriend’s home, Warwick Crown Court heard.
And a judge observed he had acted out of vengeance after his former partner had co-operated with the police to identify him on CCTV recordings of knifepoint robberies he had carried out.
Weedon, of no fixed address, was jailed for seven years after pleading guilty to two charges of robbery, one of attempted robbery, three of having a bladed article, one of theft and two of arson being reckless whether lives were endangered.
Prosecutor Graeme Simpson said that on November 2 last year there were two members of staff on duty at the BP garage in Stratford Road, Warwick, when Weedon burst in at around 3am and brandished a serrated kitchen knife.
One of the staff members rushed to a secure office from where he called the police as Weedon ordered the other assistant to open the till.
He lunged across the counter with the knife and grabbed about £350 before rushing out.
He was not identified until two weeks later when he returned to the shop as a customer, and one of the assistants recognised him.
Mr Simpson said that as a result CCTV from that visit was handed to the police, and Weedon was arrested, but he denied being involved and no further action was taken because of difficulties establishing his identity as the robber.
Then on December 4 Weedon stole a Yamaha motorbike from the multi-storey car park in Linen Street, Warwick.
At 8.20pm, wearing a motorcycle helmet with the visor down and brandishing the knife, he went into Subway at the Leamington Shopping Park. He ordered the two female staff members to open the till, but they managed to escape through a fire exit and he left empty-handed.
Two hours later he again targeted the BP garage in Stratford Road, Warwick, where he threatened a staff member with the knife as he made off with £450.
Mr Simpson said Weedon’s ex-partner assisted the police by agreeing to look at the recordings, and she recognised him on them - but he again denied being involved.
Then in the early hours of April 2 there was a report of a vehicle on fire on a drive in Yeats Drive on the Chase Meadow estate in Warwick.
Weedon’s ex-girlfriend’s black Saab had been set on fire, and the blaze had spread to her new boyfriend’s Peugeot work van – and to the front of the house itself.
They were woken by the noise caused by the fire, and could feel the heat and see the flames at the bedroom window, so called the fire brigade and escaped through the back door.
Both vehicles were destroyed, and the front of the house was also badly fire-damaged.
Weedon then went to an address in Leamington where he set fire to a Vauxhall Zafira parked outside in the mistaken belief it was the home of his ex’s new boyfriend.
The woman who lived there was woken by a loud ‘whoosh’ at 5.50am and looked out to see a trail of fire at the side of her car.
The flames again spread to the front of the house, causing the windows to burst.
Nick Devine, defending, said Weedon’s previous offences had been of a much less serious nature.
“Drugs and alcohol are the problem. At the time he was on a potent cocktail of serious drugs and alcohol.
“Money was needed to buy the drugs and to live, and he turned to crime to get that money.
“The arson offences are brought about through an entirely different set of circumstances. She was his first love, and when it came to an end he simply couldn’t cope with it.”
Recorder Goodchild said: “I accept that your personal life was in a mess, and you were taking a cocktail of drugs which completely shifted your sense of judgement.
“But there were three separate robberies, one of them an attempted robbery after the two girls, who have been terrified by the experience, fled, and the other two were actual robberies.
“Your former partner, and the mother of your child, was attempting to settle down with another man, and she helped the police. The result is that you sought revenge.
“You were steeped in drugs, and you went past and saw the car and set fire to it. It caught a van alight, and as they both blazed it caught the house. It must have been absolutely terrifying for those inside.
“What could have happened is that the occupants would not have woken up and would just have expired by smoke inhalation and would then have burned to death.”