Fatal fire accused 'had threatened to torch the flats'
Published 28/04/2010 | 05:00
A MAN alleged to have killed two jockeys by setting fire to a block of flats had threatened to "torch the place" weeks before, a jury was told yesterday.
Prosecutors said drunken Peter Brown (37), set fire to the complex in Norton, North Yorkshire, as an act of "revenge" after he was refused entry to a party.
The blaze claimed the lives of apprentice jockeys Jamie Kyne, (18) from Kiltrogue, Co Galway, and Jan Wilson (19) of Forfar, Scotland.
A jury heard prosecutor Richard Mansell outline the case that Brown lit a fire in the block's communal entrance in the early hours of September 6 last year.
Ms Wilson, who had been staying with her boyfriend Ian Brennan and Mr Kyne were asleep in a top floor flat when the alarm was raised.
Mr Mansell told the jury how Brown "made what appeared to be a foolhardy and pointless attempt to break into the flat complex".
Jurors would have to consider whether this was "an attempt by the man responsible for lighting the fire to reverse what he had done minutes earlier" or whether it was "nothing more than a feigned performance designed to cover his tracks".
The jury heard Brown --who later described himself to police as a "drunken Scotsman" -- had been drinking in several pubs before the fire started.
In the meantime, a party had been going on mainly in flat four of the Buckrose Court complex but those attending also went in and out of flat five -- the one where the two jockeys died.
Mr Mansell said Brown returned to the complex where he allegedly used an accelerant, possibly white spirit, to start a fire with rubbish.
Fire alarms sounded and residents woke to find the complex on fire. Many had to jump from windows or climb down a drainpipe as the fire took hold.
Ms Wilson was seen screaming at the window, the jury was told.
Mr Brennan managed to jump from flat five with another resident, Dean Pratt.
Relatives of the two victims listened as Mr Mansell said: "We suggest that the defendant, whilst intoxicated and feeling generally low, brooded during the two hours or so which he spent at public houses in town.
"He lit the fire on his return to get back at the occupants of flat four, and possibly one or more of the visitors, who had earlier refused him entry to the party and insulted and humiliated him."
Mr Mansell told the jury how Brown had fallen out with the occupants of flat four in the complex, where he also lived.
In one incident two months before the blaze one tenant overheard Brown tell the man who owned the flats that he would "bloody torch the place", the prosecutor said.
The court heard how Brown moved into the complex in 2006 when he split from his wife. They have one son.
Brown, of School Croft, Brotherton, North Yorkshire, denies two charges of murder, two alternative charges of manslaughter and a charge of arson with intent to endanger life.
The trial continues.