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Arsonists who targeted Bushey family jailed

 Published on: 14th December 2017   |   By: The Newsdesk   |   Category:

A court heard today how a family from Bushey were left traumatised and fearful after an arson attack on their home. Today (Thurs) the two men behind the attack in April of this year were jailed after a judge told them they had risked causing death or injury to the occupants Sentencing 26 year old Daniel Roberts to three years behind bars and his co-defendant, Paul Roberts, 27, to two years and four months  Deputy Circuit Judge, Graham Arran said “The impact has been to create a great deal of anxiety for the family. The two men, who St Albans crown court were told are not related, carried out the attack because of a “history” between Daniel Roberts  and Gavin Dolby, who lived at the targeted property in Vega Road, Bushey. Prosecutor Ami Jones told the court how the arson attack was carried out at around 12.50am on the morning of April 3 this year. Miss Jones said Mr Dolby had been in a relationship with a young woman, but they had split up and she had begun a relationship with Daniel Roberts, from Norwich Avenue, Southend-on-Sea in Essex. As a result, the court was told, there was some ill feeling on Daniel Roberts’ part and he was behind a number of “malicious” communications which were sent to Mr Dolby. Roberts sent Mr Dolby a photo of him with Mr Dolby’s children. He also sent Mr Dolby a photo of his home in Vega Road, indicating he knew where he lived. The prosecutor said the letters prompted Mr Dolby to contact Hertfordshire Police in February of this year. The court then heard how, on the night of April 2 this year, the two defendants drove from Essex into Hertfordshire. Behind the wheel was Paul Roberts, of The Broadway in the Leigh-on-Sea area of Southend. Shortly after midnight on April 3 they were captured on CCTV at the South Mimms service area beside the M25 buying 1.5 litres of petrol. From there the court was told they travelled to the home of Mr Dolby in Bushey where, at around ten to one that morning, the petrol was used to start a fire outside the front of the house. The fire was started on the outside windowsill of the living room. Miss Jones said the pair then made off in the car. Judge Arran was told that in fact Gavin Dolby wasn’t at home that night. But asleep in the property was his father Darren, his mother and younger sister. The  prosecutor said the father was woken by what was happening outside. She went on “Having heard a loud bang, he awoke. He heard footsteps running away and a car driving off.” From the upstairs window Darren Dolby could see smoke outside and ran down the stairs. He could see the fire and the can on the windowsill and got a wet towel to cover it. “He told his wife and daughter to leave by the back exit.” The court was told the fire caused damage to the window and front door as well as decking in the garden. But the brave actions of the father that night were successful in putting out the flames. It didn’t take long for the police to arrest Daniel Roberts and his co-defendant Paul and that same day they both declined to answer questions put to them by officers. The court was told the effect of the arson attack that night on the family had been devastating. In a statement read to the court by Mr Dolby Snr he said “I cannot believe someone would have the nerve to do this to us. To think someone would set fire to my garden petrifies me.” He went on “I believe they wanted to hurt us or kill us. I am very jittery when at home now.” The father said he now struggles to sleep at night because of the worry, and finds himself constantly getting out of bed to look out the window if he hears a car door slam. In court today Daniel Roberts pleaded guilty to arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered. Paul Roberts admitted conspiring to commit arson on a car. The court was told Paul Roberts had driven his friend from Essex to Bushey that night believing it was to be a car belonging to Gavin Dolby that was to be set on fire. His barrister Miss Jacqueline Carey said “He accepts he was part of a plan to destroy a car. He became involved in this based on loyalty, not logic.” Mr James Harrison for Daniel Roberts said his client had been diagnosed with a personality disorder and at the time of the offence had not been taking his medication. Also, he didn’t have stable accommodation and it was against this background that he had acted impulsively and with a lack of control. In addition to the three year prison sentence Daniel Roberts was told he will also be subject to a restraining order forbidding him from contacting Gavin Dolby or going to his home.

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