‘Hate campaign’ ended with fire

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A WOMAN faked hate messages, graffiti and started a fire in which her boyfriend almost died to get back at a former lover, a court has heard.

Sharon Mann, 27, of Mill Street, Mildenhall, appeared at Ipswich Crown Court on Wednesday accused of falsely claiming she had been the victim of a campaign of harassment.

Mann pleaded not guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice between August 2009 and February 2010 after telling police that her ex-boyfriend, Peter Crotty, was harrassing her.

Crotty was arrested and questioned by police before later being released.

Andrew Thompson, prosecuting, told the court that Mann’s motives were unclear, but it was probably for ‘revenge, sympathy or attention’.

The court heard allegations that Mann had sent herself and her boyfriend, Jonathan Horridge, threatening text messages and then claimed they were from Mr Crotty. Jurors were told that her relationship with Mr Crotty had ended in ‘acrimonious circumstances’ the previous year.

Mann also denied arson with intent to endanger life on December 15 last year and a lesser charge of arson being reckless as to whether life would be endangered.

Mr Horridge told the court how last year he had been trapped inside Mann’s first floor flat in George Lambton Avenue, Newmarket, by a fire and had to be rescued by firefighters.

He only survived after doctors inserted a tube into his throat to help him breath and was in intensive care for a week. Mann had escaped the blaze through a window.

A window at the flat was also damaged and vandalised with graffiti in a separate incident, with Mann believed to be responsible, according to Mr Thompson.

Mr Thompson said investigators had concluded that the fire was started deliberately.

They also found a mobile phone inside the flat which had allegedly been used to send threatening texts to Mann’s and Mr Horridge’s phones.

Giving evidence, Mr Horridge told the court that he was ‘gutted’ when he discovered that it was Mann who had been sending the threatening messages.

He said he then went to police to inform them of the circumstances surrounding the fire and what he believed to be the source of the blaze.

He added that on the night of the vandalism, he had twice been sent out by Mann before returning to find the graffiti and burning paper stuffed in the letterbox.

The trial continues.